Narrabri mine will take delivery of the longwall in October 2010, with operations expected to start in early 2011, subject to Stage 2 planning approvals from the NSW state government.

The longwall will have full face automation using Bucyrus’s inertial measurement system based on IMAR 3D gyroscopes. Initial production from the mine will be 700,000 metric tons per year (mtpy) using continuous miners. Development crews are expected to reach the coal seams soon. Second stage development aims to have the longwall installed in early 2011 to ramp up to 6 million mtpy and maximum production is expected to be 8 million mtpy.

The seam has a height of 9 m, but initially, the mine is targeting the bottom 4.5 m as this is low-ash, low-sulfur coal. The mine is considering using LTTC as this technique allows extraction to a total seam height of more than 10 m by using a longwall shearer to cut the bottom 2.8 to 3 m and then caving the top coal up behind the roof supports onto a rear AFC. This would, however, require a major upgrade of the proposed wash plant because of the lower-grade coal.

A decision on the use of the LTCC mining method is subject to ongoing feasibility studies, which will be subject to mining conditions experienced, in particular the caving characteristics of the coal seam. If LTCC is selected as the preferred mining method, the equipment can be easily retrofitted with the with additional LTCC components.

Bucyrus will supply the Narrabri mine with 146 two-leg 1,378-ton roof supports, each capable of retrofit for LTCC, a 3,500 mt/hr PF 6/1242 armored face conveyor powered by 2 x 1,200 kW with 2 KP-65 CST gearboxes, a Bucyrus Electra 3000 evo shearer with installed power of 2,075 kW, as well as a beam stage loader and all hydraulics, electrics and infrastructure.

In related news, Bucyrus also announced during November that it had delivered the 50th ExPC, a ruggedized PC for use in explosion-hazard areas. With state-of-the-art computer technology and a 19-inch graphic display, the ExPC opens up a completely new dimension of data processing, recording and visualization underground and in explosion-hazard areas. The first ExPC was delivered to Xi Shan in China in January 2003. The 50th was recently delivered to OKD’s CSM II mine in the Czech Republic.

The ExPC collects data from drives, roof supports and the

shearer or plow and visualizes these at the coal face. It also transmits this data via fiber-optic cable or DSL to the mine network for visualization, control and troubleshooting. The ExPC is characterized by its rugged design. The explosion-protected housing, the armored glass screen and the waterproof keyboard with built-in mouse ensure that the ExPC can work safely and efficiently even in dusty and gassy areas. Intrinsically safe ports and network connection guarantee smooth data exchange with other control systems.

The ExPC operates as a Visualization Control Unit (VCU). There are visualization programs for the various control tasks. They are VShield, VPlow, VShearer, VDrive and VLongwall. They allow parameters to be read and set, as well as visualization of operational data. Each component also allows logging of operational data and has a Replay function for visualization, analysis and process optimization.