Bucyrus now finally joins fellow OEMs Joy Mining Machinery, Inbye Mining Services and Eickhoff Australia in signing on to license agreements with CSIRO for the technology.
Developed by CSIRO under funding from the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP), the LASC (Longwall Automation Steering Committee) system includes face alignment, horizon control, communications and operator interface, and information systems.
Bucyrus was also the first OEM to collaborate with CSIRO in developing the technology at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Broadmeadow, Xstrata’s Beltana and Anglo Coal’s Grasstree longwall mines.
CSIRO business unit leader of exploration and mining Dr Mike McWilliams said he was delighted with the broad availability of LASC automation through the major manufacturers.
“It is important to the industry that all miners have access to the technology, whatever their supplier of choice,” he said.
ACARP executive director Mark Bennetts said it was exciting to have met a major objective of the research program.
“The goal was to make the benefits of improved productivity and the movement of people away from hazardous working environments of the automated systems universally available to industry,” Bennetts said.
“Now, with the signing of Bucyrus, every major manufacturer around the world can include LASC technology in its longwall equipment.”
Bucyrus Australia managing director John Cassells said the integration of LASC technology into the Bucyrus longwall automation system will further strengthen the company’s position as a longwall technology provider.
“We are happy to have reached agreement with CSIRO which recognises our existing technologies and allows us to further develop the LASC automation system and adapt it to include future innovations from our own company, CSIRO and others,” Cassells said.
LASC automation technology not only provides obvious safety advantages but will also increase productivity.
ACARP research suggests the typical longwall operation could have an additional 435,000 saleable tonnes per year by incorporating the system.
McWilliams has previously said the system will provide a 5% increase in cutting rate, scaling up to perhaps 10-15%.
While Moranbah North (Joy shearer) and Carborough Downs (shearer supplied by Inbye) will be among the first longwall mines to take LASC commercial, pre-commercial automation systems have already found success at Xstrata's Beltana, BMA's Broadmeadow and Anglo’s Grasstree mines.
Bucyrus is the last of the major OEMs to include LASC automation technology in its equipment.