Moolarben Coal Mine Case Study
Strata Worldwide has a proven system to automatically transfer bulk quantities of stone dust from a surface storage silo to trickle dust the longwall tailgate.
The surface silo is connected through the earth to an underground slave pod and the stone dust is pneumatically transferred through a dedicated, pressurised pipeline.
Moolarben Coal Mine located in the coalfields of the Mudgee Region of New South Wales, was looking for a low maintenance, streamlined stone dusting system to reduce both time and manpower in stone dusting tasks.
As with all longwall operations, the essential task of dusting in the longwall tailgate was their primary focus.
Beginning in late 2018, Strata Worldwide worked closely with mine personnel to design and integrate the Strata Automated Stone Dust Storage and Dispersal System into the operation. The system was specifically designed to accept bulk transfer of large quantities of stone dust directly from road tankers, into a 150 tonne storage silo on the surface. Situated adjacent to a borehole, the stone dust is then pneumatically transferred underground and stored in the 20-tonne slave pod.
The slave pod serves as an underground storage and filling station, transferring stone dust to mobile pod dusters and flinger dusters as needed. It can also be used for manual hose dusting directly from the pod.
Over time, as the mine advances, the management team plans to extend the dedicated pipeline and install additional inline slave pods to work together to pneumatically transfer bulk quantities of stone dust inbye. The distance between the slave pods inline will be 3000 metres.
The transfer of stone dust between slave pods can be set on a programmed timer using Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), or manually, on demand, using the Strata hand-held Communicator unit. The stone dust will transfer at a rate of 16.2 tonnes per hour.
All inline slave pods will be accessible for manual hose dusting, and the furtherest inbye slave pod inline will be used as a storage and refill station for “local” mobile dusters.
The entire system is monitored live via SCART/CITEC and full operational and functional control can be accomplished via a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) from the surface control center (CRO) or underground, using Wi-Fi tablets or the Strata Communicator.
From the last slave pod inbye, Moolarben Coal Mine has elected to utilise two trailer-mounted Strata 6-Tonne Mobile Multi-Purpose Dusters to transport stone dust from the pipeline to the longwall tailgate. Here they provide up to 25 hours of continuous trickle dusting coverage. Neither the machine, nor personnel have to enter the tailgate to undertake trickle dusting.
For other areas and routine tasks, these same trailer-mounted pod dusters can function as manual hose dusters or bulk transfer pressure dusters. This is a one-of-a-kind multifunctional design which switches between modes by simply engaging a three-position joystick to select the option. The operator selects the required mode and the system automatically purges itself and resets. Display pressure gauges notify the operator when the system is ready, eliminating the need to adjust or check a manual regulator’s pressure by hand.
At completion of the task the operator resets the joystick and the system purges and resets once again, ready for next operator or task selection.
The Mobile Multi-Purpose Dusters are available in both Strata’s 3- and 6-tonne Pod capacities. The 3-Tonne Pod Duster is a Quick Detach System (QDS) attachment, while the 6-Tonne Pod Duster is mounted on a dual axle, 4 wheel, unbraked trailer.
Larger capacity trailer mounted pod dusters, with brakes, are also available.
The mine’s management have expressed great satisfaction with the function and ease of use of the system and trailers, and it has been referred to as an “Industry Best Practice.”