CSIRO innovative mining technology goes global
The agreement, signed at the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies, provides Joy Australasia with a worldwide non-exclusive licence for the commercialisation of CSIRO’s innovative underground longwall automation system, known as LASC technology.
In underground longwall coal mining, a large rail-mounted shearing machine with rotating cutting heads removes a large ‘slice’ of coal as the shearer is driven back and forth across the coal face. Space for the shearer to operate is provided by a system of powered roof supports that temporarily hold up the roof while the coal is being extracted.
This form of underground coal mining accounts for about 90 per cent of underground coal production in Australia, which is more than 70 million tonnes a year. With funding from the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP), CSIRO has developed new technologies to locate and guide coal cutting equipment in longwall mines.
“The goal was to provide automated systems that would improve productivity and move people away from a hazardous working environment,” says Dr David Hainsworth, Senior Principal Research Engineer with CSIRO Exploration & Mining.
“If you can move people even 50m away from where the action is, you can improve safety by distancing them from the mechanical and hydraulic energy and a dusty environment.”
Pre-commercial prototypes of the technology have been operating at three Australian mines, including Xstrata’s Beltana longwall mine, which has been the highest producing longwall mine in Australia by a large margin for a number of years.
The principal components of the LASC automation system include face alignment, horizon control, communications and operator interface, and information systems.
Joy Australasia Managing Director, Mark Finlay, says Joy is delighted to gain access to CSIRO’s technology.
“It will enhance our existing longwall mining solutions and contribute towards optimising longwall equipment performance in changing seam conditions,” Mr Finlay says.
“This technology supports the industry vision of improved safety, productivity and reliability at the lowest cost per tonne.”
Non-exclusive licence agreements with other Australian and overseas longwall equipment manufacturers are expected to follow shortly.
“It is an exciting moment to see technologies developed with the assistance of ACARP funding being made available to the coal industry by a major global manufacturer” says ACARP Executive Director Mr Mark Bennetts.
“This is the first of a number of non-exclusive licence agreements for CSIRO’s longwall automation technology. As the new technology is incorporated into mines, it will improve productivity and provide a safer working environment. For ACARP, it is an ideal outcome, resulting from extensive and close cooperation between CSIRO, industry and the manufacturers.”
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- On 15 October, Dr Mike McWilliams, Chief of CSIRO Exploration & Mining, signed an agreement to commercialise revolutionary new mining automation technology with Mark Finlay, the Managing Director of Joy Australasia, one of the world’s largest longwall mining original equipment manufacturers
- The agreement, signed at the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies, provides Joy Australasia with a worldwide non-exclusive licence for the commercialisation of CSIRO’s innovative underground longwall automation system, known as LASC technology
- The principal components of the LASC automation system include face alignment, horizon control, communications and operator interface, and information systems