Arch Resources’ Leer operation in West Virginia has recently introduced advanced longwall automation technologies into their operation which will assist it with its drive toward zero harm and increased productivity.

Providing a safety-focused technology solution for Leer, Komatsu’s Personal Proximity Detection system is designed to detect and monitor the location of operators on the longwall face. The system also enables Leer’s Roof Support Surface Control feature that opens a secure remote connection from a surface PC to the roof support control system to manage the roof supports or initiate automated functions from the surface of the mine. This reduces operator exposure to dust by placing them in a safer location while helping increase productivity and reduce downtime.

Half a world away, Chinese longwall operators also are reaping the benefits of Komatsu’s longwall automation technology. The Zhuanlongwan mine, operated by Yankuang (part of the Shandong Energy Group) in Inner Mongolia, has demonstrated its 2-m seam has the ability to produce 10 million metric tons per year (mt/y) operating with a world-class level of automation which can enable them to implement future technology for man-less operation.

The face’s 209-powered roof supports feature Joy’s RS20i control system working in conjunction with a Joy MA7LS2 shearer, delivering advanced automation technology to increase productivity and improve the drive toward zero harm.

The mine has successfully completed production and automation trials demonstrating 10 million mt/y is achievable with only three operators on the longwall. The next stage will see the three operators reduced to one, then none as the fully remote operation is realized.