Construction and development of the Ashton longwall mine began in December 2005 and by the end of August had covered 3,775 metres of underground roadway development.
Flannery said the Ashton longwall seam is 2.7m in height with a 210m long face width, which will equate to a 20 year mine life producing 3 million tonnes per year.
One Joy 12cm11 has been used for development so far, Flannery said, adding that two new Joy 12cm12 continuous miners were due to be delivered in March 2007 to fast track the process.
“Delivery of equipment has been tight, especially underground machinery and items, it hasn’t caused any major problems but we have to keep very close management over it,” he said.
Flannery said DBT had received the bulk of longwall equipment orders, supplying the armoured face conveyor (AFC), beam stage loader (BSL), shield supports, monorail and pump stations, with Eickhoff to supply the shearer. ...click here for equipment specifications.
The AFC has a pan width of 1.142m and a capacity of 2,500 tonnes per hour.
DBT Australia Executive Vice President Andrew Richmond said the AFC Line Pan PF6 is particularly suitable for longwalls with extended face length and for panels with coal reserves of 20Mt and over, having an easily replaceable top deck plate.
The 1.756m shield supports have a total support capacity of 1027t and PMC-R series electronic shield control units.
Richmond said the Ashton longwall’s DBT Stage Loader and Crusher would have a capacity of 3,000tph.
“The longwall system has been specifically designed by DBT to meet the thin and dipping seam section evident at Ashton,” he said.
The Eickhoff SL 750 Shearer, chosen for its ability to operate in medium seam applications and meet high productivity demands, has an installed cutting power of up to 1,474kW at 50Hz.
Flannery said recruiting an experienced and able longwall workforce has been a priority for Felix, and the process is almost complete.
“We have just about everyone on board, there are about 15 positions left to fill and that will make the full compliment of 120 employees,” he said.
The washplant extension is now well and truly underway, and will be upgraded from 400 to 600tph capacity to accommodate mine production as the longwall is developed.
Flannery said the underground mining conditions to date had been favourable, with sound strata conditions and minimal gas and water.
“We haven’t had any gas issues, it is quite a low gas environment and the deepest point in about 20 years time is around 280m, so it’s relatively shallow initially,” Flannery said.