By Steve Fiscor, Russ Carter and Gina Tverdak-Slattery

Most attendees expect to see massive, robust mining equipment when they attend MINExpo INTERNATIONAL. What caught a lot of people by surprise with this event was the sheer size of the exposition. The U.S. National Mining Association (NMA) hosts MINExpo every four years. Over the course of the last two or three events, delegates have developed a routine. They arrive with a list of key contacts to meet and then try to make an effort to walk the exhibit. Applying that approach to MINExpo 2012 left many exhibitors and attendees wondering if MINExpo should be extended from three days to four—and that’s a good problem to have.

Adding to the excitement, the NMA organized an informative technical program, which kicked off with several mining executives talking about the future of mining. The overall message was upbeat—more so for mining activities outside the U.S. They did hint at an eventual renewal in some parts of the U.S. even for coal mining. Sessions during the mornings of day two and three discussed other aspects of mining with heavy emphasis on safety and technology.

Trying to cover 1,800-plus companies, all of the announcements, and the program with a finite set of pages would be impossible. Mining Media had the largest contingent of editors on the floor and attending press events. What follows is a snapshot of highlights from those three days in Las Vegas in September. Over the course of the next year, Coal Age will elaborate on many more subjects in-depth.

Atlas Copco Introduces New Drilling Equipment
Keeping its newest member of the Pit Viper family top secret until the show, Atlas Copco introduced the Pit Viper 311 wide-range rotary blasthole drill. It is similar to the Pit Viper 351 with its single-pass drilling but the Pit Viper 311 has the capacity to drill holes deeper, to a maximum depth of 125 ft (38.1 m). Drilling up to 65-ft (19.8-m) clean holes with a live tower can reduce non-drilling time and, combined with taller benches, can greatly increase production capability.

The Pit Viper 311 is the first release of the all new Pit Viper 310 series. Atlas Copco Engineering Project Manager Iain Peebles said the PV-311 offers a narrow range of hole sizes from 9 to 12.25 in., which fills in the gap between the hole ranges of the Pit Viper 351 and the Pit Viper 270.

“We’ve incorporated a lot of existing technology that’s proven successful on our other Pit Viper models,” Peebles said, adding that there have been some upgrades. “One of the things we’re most excited about on the PV-310 series project is our new cab. Now you have a fully adjustable chair with joystick and cab controls. We’ve elevated the cab above the deck to give the operator a better view. We’ve tried to improve operator visibility around the machine, with larger windows and mirrors placed so the operator can see what’s going on at ground level and the front of the machine.”

The tower has an interchangeable unit, structurally similar to the Pit Viper 351, but is deeper to accommodate larger sheaves for either single-pass or multi-pass applications. Weldments have also been improved, including a ladder that provides access to decking in the tower above the rod changer when the tower is horizontal. Bits can be changed above the Pit Viper 311 rig’s deck even while single-pass drilling 65-ft-deep (19.8-m) holes so operators will have their eyes on making and breaking the connection each and every time.

The two-speed hydraulic rotary head delivers 12,880 ft-lb (17.62 kNm) of rotation torque at 140 rpm and 7,000 ft-lb at 240 rpm. Hydraulic cylinders drive the cable feed system, and the patented automatic cable tensioning system reduces cable and rotary head guide wear by continually keeping the rotary head aligned and taut, cutting down on unscheduled maintenance time.

Cat: The 800-lb Gorilla
Caterpillar’s current slogan—introduced at MINExpo 2012—is “The Broadest Product Line in the Mining Industry,” and a stroll through the company’s 1.2-acre exhibit at the trade show lent considerable credence to that claim. Although even that amount of surface area wasn’t quite enough to fit-in every type of equipment that the company offers, Cat did find enough open space to bring in a 420,000-lb Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) SD70ACe locomotive—decked out in Caterpillar yellow—from its Progress Rail Services subsidiary, in addition to displaying units of its mining-class haul trucks, excavators, dozers, wheel loaders and a wide range of other surface and underground mining equipment.

Prior to the start of the three-day show, Cat hosted a press event during which the company presented a product segment-by-segment rundown of new or recent product, technology and strategic developments in its global mining business. With a portfolio that now includes surface equipment ranging from conveyors to draglines—and every type in between—and underground longwall and hard-rock cutting and haulage lines, there’s room in this MINExpo wrap-up only for thumbnail sketches of developments in each equipment segment.

Haulage Systems—This segment includes articulated trucks, smaller off-highway trucks, E-Ject truck body systems, scrapers and conveyors. Segment manager Larry C. Tate said his group would not introduce any new products at MINExpo—but that didn’t mean his segment hasn’t been active. During 2011–2012, according to Tate, the company introduced three new articulated truck models (735B, 740B, 740B EJ), five new off-highway models (770G, 772G, 773G, 775G, 777G), and three new scraper models (621H, 623H, 627H).

Caterpillar’s objective, said Tate, was to provide customers with ‘total solutions’ that cover the most important hauling-systems selection criteria:

  • What type of material is being moved?
  • What are the underfoot conditions?
  • How much material has to be moved?
  • What is the total job cycle distance?
  • What are the job site time/production requirements?

Conveyor systems are the newest option in Cat’s hauling system portfolio, according to Tate. Installations will be custom-made to match the profile, distance, material characteristics, tonnage and desired belt speed for each application.

Surface Material Handling Products—The big news in this area, according to Segment Manager Sri Srinath, is that Cat now can offer a competitive current lineup of rotary drills, encompassing six models from the former Bucyrus stable that offer bit-loading capacities of 53,000–165,000 lb, hole diameters of 6–17.5 in. and single-pass hole-depth ranges of 29 ft to 65+ ft.

Srinath noted that Cat has a “sharp focus” on further development of drill technology, and is working with key mining companies on development of autonomous rigs. Cat drills will be sold and supported through the Cat dealer network. Globally, the company currently has more than two-dozen dealers “onboard” for drills, and is intent upon bringing in more of its mining-industry dealers for the rotary drill business.

Underground Products—In the underground coal sector, Cat now can offer a complete longwall shearer range comprising four models (Electra EL1000, EL2000, EL3000, EL4000) with height capacities from 3.2 m to 7.2 m, explained Segment Manager Uli Paschedag. One EL3000 shearer is currently operating in Australia and another is slated to go into service in India soon.

The primary selling points of Cat’s shearer line, he said, are:

  • Productivity: Installed horsepower across the range matches market demand, and the shearers feature a new, powerful PMC-S Evo control system.
  • Reliability: Offering a unique, robust mainframe; insert trapping shoe; and Ethernet-based communications and control system.
  • Modularity: Line consists of four machines with two sets of components. The EL4000, for example, has a bigger mainframe than the EL3000, but other-wise uses most of the same components featured on the smaller machine.

Cat has developed a Personal Proximity Detection (PPD) system, described as an assisting, risk-mitigating feature that identifies the presence or absence of personnel on a longwall installation accurately, repetitively and reliably, and transmits this information to the machine’s control system. PPD also works with a continuous miner operations, detecting the presence of personnel within a certain distance of a machine, providing warning signals to workers in the vicinity, and inhibiting machine movement when workers are detected in the surrounding areas.

Cat also will begin to offer Chinese-made Siwei mid-tier roof supports as a complement to its own line of supports. The mid-range units will retain Siwei branding and will be sold within Cat’s Global Mining business.

Just recently released is the CM235 continuous miner, a 67.5-ton machine rated at 940 total horsepower and 550 cutter head horsepower, capable of load rates from 15-32 tons per minute.

Finally, according to Paschedag, Cat is developing a prototype for a continuous miner-style, hard-rock cutting machine and plans to begin trials of the unit within a few months.

Large Mining Trucks—It’s been an eventful four years since MINExpo 2008 for Cat’s mining truck business, said Ed McCord, segment manager, and the acquisition of Bucyrus’ Unit Rig electric-drive truck lifted the truck group’s level of activity even higher than usual. In the years following the last MINExpo, said McCord, Cat began production of the 793F, 797F and 795F AC; designed, tested and began producing the 789D; started field tests on the 793F AC; and went ‘live’ with the MineStar Command for Hauling system. It also initiated development of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) engine development for its largest mining trucks.

The company’s long-term strategy for its mining truck business, said McCord, includes “extending our leadership position,” continuing to increase manufacturing capacity and footprint, improving product-line power train efficiency, and establishing Cat as a technology pioneer—a new stance for the company. Even so, McCord also noted that Cat is not currently planning development of any truck larger than its 797F without a significant advance in necessary technology.

Cat is intent upon “building on its foundation” in further development of the Unit Rig brand, said McCord, taking advantage of Unit Rig’s long history in the industry, its unique technology in certain areas, and its distinction as being the only mining truck line with AC drive throughout the entire range. There was also, he noted, value in capitalizing on Unit Rig’s name recognition in certain markets such as China and Russia. Cat will continue to increase vertical integration of the Unit Rig line in conjunction with its EMD operations; i.e., customers will see more EMD components in the Unit Rig line in the future. Support for the line will be provided by Cat’s worldwide dealer network.

Cat will move assembly of the large Unit Rig mining trucks from Mexico to its Decatur plant, leaving the Acuña, Coahuila, plant to focus on “large fabrications” needed for truck production. Although it will continue to produce other MT models, development money will be spent mostly on the larger rigs.

The flagship of the Unit Rig line will be the new MT5300D AC, a 320-ton-capacity, AC-drive hauler powered by a Cat C175-16 diesel with 2,750- and 3,500-hp options. Cat redesigned the frame to handle 320-ton payloads and equipped the new model with what, in essence, is a 795F AC drive system—all part of an accelerated development schedule that began in 2011 and had the truck up and running late in August 2012.

Although the MT5300D AC is, in many ways, similar to the 795F AC, it won’t have certain features included in the Cat-branded truck, including the unique blended retarding system built into the 795F. Production is expected to begin early in 2014.

Large Loading Tools—With an eye toward the changing requirements of the global mining industry, Cat designed and introduced the 6120B FS, which it touts as the industry’s first hybrid, ultra-class hydraulic shovel. The 120-ton-bucket-payload shovel employs new diesel-electric technology that makes it a very attractive alternative to other shovels at short-term operations, non-electrified mine sites and greenfield development projects, said Surface Extraction Product Segment Manager Joe Helfrich.

The 6120B—first in a planned line of B series machines, according to Helfrich—features hybrid technology with energy-recovery capabilities that involve quick, efficient reversal of flow in the shovel’s hydraulic circuits, in the process reducing fuel costs by at least 25% while providing the capability to three- to four-pass match with ultra-class haul trucks.

The company is currently assembling a pilot machine in Milwaukee, Wis., and then expects to ship the unit to its Tinaja Hills test facility in Arizona before the end of the year. Offering performance similar to Cat’s 7495 rope shovel, Helfrich said the 6120B would, in fact, make a “great backup machine” to traditional rope shovels, while giving Cat capability to address the “full space” of ultra-class truck loading requirements demanded by its customers.

Cat’s 7495 rope shovel now uses some of the technology developed in the 6120B project, said Helfrich, and is capable of running on one-third the power required by traditional shovels. This capability, he said, has the potential to change the way mines are planned and started in areas where off-grid power is the early—or only—choice. Cat currently has a test version of the upgraded 7495 running at Tinaja Hills, powered by two 3512 diesel gensets.

Bridgestone Reports Tire Performance in Real Time
As part of the Bridgestone Mining Solutions program, Bridgestone launched B-TAG, a system that monitors tire pressure and temperature and reports the data in real time, so mine operators can make informed decisions that impact safety, tire performance, maintenance and production. B-TAG hardware is installed on the vehicle; data is sent from sensors in the tire to the onboard system in the vehicle, and then may be forwarded to the mine dispatch system, a B-TAG handheld reader or downloaded directly for analysis. Mine operators can not only see data in real time to make immediate decisions, but data can also be compiled to identify pressure trends or assess and adjust operating conditions for more long-term solutions.

The company also announced it will make an additional investment of $27.3 million for a second expansion project at its Bloomington, Ill., off-the-road (OTR) plant. Most of the investment will go toward new machinery for the production of giant loader tires. This announcement follows news in April of a $19.5 million investment in the plant to increase production of tires used in heavy industry.

Emerson Offers Vibration Monitoring for Shovels
Emerson Process Management announced it had entered into an agreement with P&H Mining Equipment to extend vibration monitoring to its electric shovels. Emerson’s onboard monitors will recognize excess vibration in key shovel components and notify operators in real time—enabling users to take corrective action in time to prevent unexpected shutdowns and possible damage to the huge excavating machines. The agreement covers continuous vibration monitoring of the hoist, crowd and swing systems on P&H Centurion controlled shovels. Vibration monitoring will be offered on all new P&H shovels, and all existing Centurion controlled shovels can be retrofitted to include vibration monitors.

Pressure Filtration for Hydraulic Fluid
Manufactured using Synteq XP media, Donaldson’s new FLK assemblies provide higher pressure fatigue ratings than traditional filters. With its re-usable filter housing and replacement cartridge design, it offers several advantages for disposal of used filters. The FLK’s industrial, raised hand-grips make it easy to remove the housing from the head without the need for special service tools. The versatile filter head accommodates multiple filter lengths, while the housing locks the filter cartridge in place, providing a clean filter service process and simplifying positioning during assembly.

Conveyor Maintenance
Flexco’s Cordless Belt Cutter has been designed to provide quick and easy cuts on rubber, PVC and fabric-plied belts. The portable tool is currently available in two sizes. The CEBC1 is capable of cutting rubber belts up to 1-in. (25-mm) thick and PVC belts up to 360 P.I.W. (63 kN/m) while the CEBC2 is capable of cutting rubber belts up to 2-in.-thick (50-mm) and PVC belts up to 1,140 P.I.W. (200 kN/m).

The company also showcased two new products to improve performance in belt conveyor load zones. These include the Flexco EZ Impact Beds, which provide simple and effective protection in the load zone, and Flexco EZ Slider Beds, which provide containment to reduce spillage. Flexco recently added the CoreTech line of rollers to its wide range of products designed to maximize belt conveyor productivity. These next generation troughing and return rollers are made of lightweight, high strength, corrosion- and abrasion-resistant composite materials.

Hitachi Offers New AC Drives System
Hitachi Mining introduced the EH5000AC-3 haul truck, powered by the new Advanced Hitachi AC Drive System. The system is designed and built by the same company that manufactures the truck. The rigid-frame truck has a Cummins QSKTTA60-CE diesel engine that generates 2,850 hp (2,125 kW) at 1,900 rpm and meets EPA Tier 2 emissions requirements. The all-hydraulic actuated braking system provides precise braking control and quick system responses, and a new monitor displays information and diagnostics of all onboard systems and controls.

The most significant update, however, is the hauler’s new AC drive system. At the core of the new system is the advanced propulsion technology, which delivers a whole new level of efficiency, vastly enhancing machine operations. The new technology, which also powers Japan’s famous bullet trains, features slip control for traction, similar to active traction control; slide control for grip, similar to an anti-lock brake system; pitch control for smoother ride control and control of bouncing when stopping; and skid control for stability in cornering when road conditions are slippery.

While slip and slide control were already available on existing Hitachi trucks, the new system now features sensors on all four wheels. It also incorporates additional feedback from the drive system, front wheels, steering, suspension and other systems on the truck to enhance the slip/slide control feature. Pitch and skid control are brand new features.

“The technical barrier between the drive system manufacturer and the truck manufacturer no longer exists at Hitachi. This traction control system takes truck performance to the next level,” said Greg Smith, manager heavy and mining equipment, Hitachi Construction Machinery. “What it provides in terms of safety and performance is exceptional.”

Hitachi Mining also introduced SkyAngle, a new camera monitoring system. The new technology, which was developed in conjunction with Clarion, takes synthesized images from several wide-angle cameras mounted on the truck and displays them in the cab. This results in a comprehensive “bird’s-eye-view” of the surrounding machinery. In addition to the proximity of machinery, the operator can switch to a “zoom display” or “wide display” mode, enabling more comprehensive monitoring of a wide area.

“The safety benefits of the SkyAngle system are tremendous. It allows operators to quickly grasp what is occurring around the machinery, such as position of other equipment, service vehicles or people,” said Ryan Blades, division manager, Hitachi Mining.

Immersive Unveils a Solution for Operator Development
Immersive Technologies has taken simulator training to a new level with the launch of a complete blended learning solution, which includes new tools, technologies and an extended range of professional services, such as:

  • SimCloud: allows mining operations to maintain complete visibility over local or global Simulation training programs via a secure website.
  • Global Operator Benchmarking: allows mining operations to benchmark their equipment operators against global norms based on data captured from more than 23,000 operators.
  • Trainer Productivity Station: is designed to alleviate the industry shortage of ex-
  • perienced trainers.
  • SimDesktop: allows trainers and managers to take advantage of these tools anwhere, anytime.
  • SimMentor: SimMentor facilitates briefing before and debriefing after simulation training sessions, increasing training effectiveness and freeing up simulator time.

JoyGlobal Previews New Loading Tools
JoyGlobal showcased several examples of advancing technology that helps mines increase operational efficiency. Those included new electric shovel advancements, an innovative P&H drill operator cab and new training simulators. The company also recently announced a new strategic business alliance with ESCO to develop new lip systems for shovel dippers.

JoyGlobal’s new hybrid shovel, the P&H 2650CX, is a diesel-electric rope shovel with an articulating hydraulic clamshell attachment designed to deliver a 65-ton payload. The machine will four-pass load 240-ton trucks and be capable of loading ultra-class 400 ton trucks.

Engineered to blend the high productivity of electric mining shovels with the mobility and flexibility of hydraulic excavators, the P&H 2650CX is designed to deliver a 15% total cost of ownership reduction when compared to large hydraulic excavators through a combination of reduced fuel consumption, improved availability and decreased maintenance and repair costs.

“Fuel consumption will be reduced by as much as 25% through using proven power regeneration from our electric motor and drive systems technology from our P&H Letourneau-Series Wheel Loaders,” said John Koetz, vice president, product marketing and engineering, JoyGlobal Surface Mining. “The drive system used will be approximately 50% more efficient than comparable diesel hydraulic systems.”

In addition to reduced fuel consumption, the P&H 2650CX will decrease the hydraulic routings, on-board fluid and pumps. This substantially improves system level reliability, efficiency and maintainability—which can result in increased machine availability over traditional diesel-hydraulic excavators. The first machine is slated to be placed in mine in the fourth quarter of 2013.

JoyGlobal also introduced the P&H 4800XPC, the company’s largest electric mining shovel, with a 135-ton payload designed to three pass load 400-ton ultra-class haul trucks. Built upon the proven performance of the P&H 4100XPC AC, its design leverages new, patent pending Adaptive Controls technology with ultra-class machine structures to enable the larger payload and increase efficiencies.

“Our new Adaptive Controls are a series of seven advanced control functions that optimize shovel power usage in different phases of the dig cycle,” said Josh Wagner, director of product development. “The goal of this system is to enable the most efficient and productive dig cycle possible, regardless of the severity of the application.”

In addition to the Adaptive Controls, the P&H 4800XPC features robust machine structures and systems such as a wider boom and handle, a new dipper with a higher weight to payload ratio and a patent pending modular counterweight system. The company estimates a production increase of as much as 20% over the P&H 4100 XPC AC with the potential to move more than 9,000 tph in production. The first machine is slated to be placed in a mine in the fourth quarter of 2013.

JoyGlobal Underground Mining exhibited its new low-seam longwall system, while offering attendees an opportunity to actually operate this highly-integrated system within a specially-designed simulator.

Offering significantly greater productivity, safety, and cost-efficiency in the extraction of thin seam coal, the JoyGlobal Low-Seam Longwall System delivers capacities exceeding 300,000 tons per month. With components newly-engineered to achieve higher production at lower cutting heights, the Joy Global Low-Seam Longwall System is complete in the seamless integration of the shearer, armored face conveyor, and roof supports; and it’s specifically designed to meet the challenges of a tough low-seam mining environment.

“Our customers want an alternative to older, conventional methods, which remain costly and inefficient due particularly to the amount of rock and dirt being extracted with the coal,” said Ed Niederriter, JoyGlobal product director for shearers and haulage products. “Consider that when compared to the typical use of medium-seam longwall equipment, operations using the JoyGlobal Low-Seam Longwall System can reduce waste by up to 40%, while achieving significant operational cost savings.”

JoyGlobal Low-Seam Longwall Systems deliver a number of benefits such as greater operator safety via a Remote Operator Control Center (R.O.C.), which allows push-button control in full automation mode or manual override, all from a safer and cleaner environment away from the face. The new Low-Seam Joy Shearer reduces the risk associated with mining face geology variants, and the synchronization of gate-end cut turnarounds. It will cut and load a full web up to ten times the width of that achieved by a plow. Operators also have the advantage of more easily varying the mining height across the face, cutting through tough mid-face coal and other unexpected geological challenges.

Also important to added safety and productivity, the shearer can cut through rock in the seam without requiring readjustments, or the need to stop for drilling and blasting. Additionally, operators can easily increase mining height for improved maintenance access, as well as for more rapid equipment disassembly in the face recovery stage. Lastly, the system positions the tail-end of the face equipment within the confines of the coal, which directly increases production by eliminating the need to keep the tail-gate entry free of debris.

JoyGlobal’s latest innovations in Advanced Shearer Automation (ASA) result in the optimization of longwall production cycles and mining safety, as reported by Joy Global customers in the U.S., Australia, and China. These operational gains, which also contribute to lower operating costs per ton, stem from new shearer steering technologies which allow the programming of fully-automated cutting sequences, including gate-end turnarounds.

End user benefits include controlling the shearing machine with a single operator, positioned upwind with less dust and noise exposure; achieving consistent extraction heights and cutting methods between shifts; and allowing the ability to manage shearer speed while easily accessing valuable system performance data at the mine surface.

“Joy ASA productivity features, such as gate-end turnarounds, are the result of very specific software enhancements, new sensor technologies, and the sharing of data between the shearer, powered roof supports, and face conveyor sub systems,” said Jeff Ley, technologist for JoyGlobal Controls & Automation the initial cutting profiles and extraction heights are defined by the use of a software utility called the Graphical Offline Planner. With this configuration, said Ley, the shearer automatically replicates the face profile until seam conditions change—at which time, the operator has the ability to override control of the roof drum which records the changing roof horizon.

By using this new roof horizon data, the remainder of the cutting sequence is fully automated per the predefined extraction heights. “This advanced level of automation enables the most efficient cycle times possible, while providing day-to-day consistency,” said Ley.

Consistently taking safety-focused technologies to higher and higher levels is particularly important to JoyGlobal Underground Mining as it has produced and sold a large number of continuous mining machines. The first Joy continuous miner was produced in 1948; recently JoyGlobal marked the shipment of its 6,000th continuous miner.

“We expect that these technologies will be easily adaptable to pieces of equipment beyond continuous miners and mobile coal haulage equipment, and that ultimately these technologies will be developed for applications across all section equipment,” Brian Thompson, product director-continuous miners, JoyGlobal Underground Mining, adding that JoyGlobal has pioneered numerous safety-focused continuous miner design features and is currently testing its not-yet-released next-generation (Phase 2) JOY SMARTZONE Proximity Detection System.

Thompson suggests that a close examination of technologies affecting proximity detection, noise reduction and dust suppression will give mining operations some very valuable insights on potential solutions to the challenges ahead.

A proximity detection system is an operator awareness feature that teaches the operator to control the continuous miner from safe working zones. If an operator breaches these zones, certain machine functions are disabled until the operator retreats into an acceptable zone.

According to Thompson, the initial (Phase 1) JOY SMARTZONE Proximity Detection System has been in operation since 2009, following rigorous testing. To date, the systems are in full production on continuous miners with 110 systems operating in 53 mines across 15 states in the U.S.

JoyGlobal’s proximity detection system utilizes electromagnetic technology, which the company sees as the most viable solution. Another main differentiator of the system, says Thompson, is that it emits an electromagnetic signature and radio frequency identification (RFID) signal that allows independent identification from a Personal Wearable Device (PWD) worn by the operator. He explains that a group of six receivers are strategically positioned on the continuous miner. The PWD worn by the operator emits an electromagnetic pulse that is recorded by each of the six machine receivers. Two distinct operating zones are maintained around the continuous miner. One is an initial warning zone and the other functions as the shutdown zone and disables various machine functions when it detects the person wearing the PWD.

Phase 2 of JOY SMARTZONE Proximity Detection System is currently in development with full release expected by mid-2013. “We are very excited to introduce a proximity detection system that will feature all the benefits of Phase 1, and will offer a platform usable on all section equipment,” said Thompson. “The system will offer a ‘seamless interaction’ between multiple systems. For example, when a shuttle car approaches a continuous miner operator, the operating zone identified on the shuttle car will automatically adapt shuttle speed to safely approach the operator. The new platform allows scalability through enhanced feature sets bringing ‘intelligence’ to the system.”

JOY SMARTZONE Proximity Detection Systems are fully mechanically and electrically integrated on Joy equipment, said Thompson. “It is also possible to retrofit existing continuous miners with the system during the rebuild of such machines. However, protecting machine-mounted components is critical to success. Simply bolting a system to an existing machine underground would lead to low availability and limited operator acceptance.”

The proximity detection systems are intended to help teach personnel to operate a continuous miner from safe working zones, and to stay clear of danger zones. “These systems are not intended to replace training and safe operating practices,” he said.

Liebherr Introduces New Truck & Excavator
Liebherr unveiled the new ultra-class T 284 as the follow-up to the successful T 282 C. The T 284 offers one of the highest payloads in the industry and features the latest generation of the Litronic Plus AC drive system.

Developed and built by Liebherr, the proven Litronic Plus AC drive system determines the optimal way to extract power from the diesel engine. With this system, more power is available to accelerate the truck and climb grades. The Litronic Plus system also conserves fuel when the engine is idling. In this way it minimizes fuel consumption and maximizes performance.

The combination of the T 284’s efficient Litronic Plus AC drive system, its high-power engine, and low gross vehicle weight leads to fast haul cycle times with higher speeds on grade if compared to other trucks in its class.

The T 284 supports engine options with power ratings up to 4,023 hp/3,000 kW. With application-specific recommendations from Liebherr, mine operators can select the engine that will allow the truck to meet productivity targets while minimizing fuel consumption. These engine options offer the latest fuel-injection technology for cleaner combustion and reduced fuel consumption. The T 284 also supports high-capacity tires.

“As the designer and manufacturer of the first 400-ton ultra-class diesel-electric mining truck, Liebherr has been at the forefront of this successful industry solution,” said Bernd Haase, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Liebherr Mining Equipment. “Literally millions of operating hours and years of design experience have come together to create the Liebherr T 284. This experience has led to a lightweight frame design that contributes to the T 284’s low empty vehicle weight. The T 284’s low empty vehicle weight and Litronic Plus AC drive system enable as much of the truck’s load-carrying capacity as possible to be used for payload.”

Liebherr also introduced the R 9150 hydraulic mining excavator, which was one of the two Liebherr hydraulic mining excavators shown at the Liebherr stand. The R 9150 is equipped with a Liebherr 12 V engine rated at 565 kW (757 hp). Its operating weight is 127 metric tons or (280,000 lb) and the machine is equipped with an 8 m3 (10.5 yd3) backhoe or face shovel attachment.

“We believe the R 9150 is a very important step in the development of a new Liebherr mining excavator range,” said Dr. Jörg Lukowski, executive vice president, Liebherr Mining Equipment. “In the future, this machine will replace the R 984 C, a very successful excavator. Including previous models of the R 984, we have sold more than 1,000 of these machines in the past decade. After the completion of a test program in-house and in the field, we can confirm that the R 9150 will be a very powerful and highly productive unit that will handle trucks up to 100 mt. In hard digging we have seen an even higher output from the R 9150 than from the R 984 C (+15 %), and the R 9150 is outperforming its competitors in this class.”

Ground Engaging Tools for Shovels
MTG launched four new sizes and five new designs for its hammerless StarMet system. The EX sizes 240 and 500 were designed specifically for mining. The new StarMet sizes 15, 20, 30 and 40 are available on the most popular MTG designs. The new product’s main innovation consists of being the lightest and the one with the shortest tooth nose available on the market. It incorporates the new Bilateral MTG Twist fixing system (both the retainer and the pin can be assembled on both sides of the adapter) that allows the user to introduce the pin through the most convenient side.

Sandvik Mining Offers the New Bolter Miner MB610
With the Bolter Miner MB610, Sandvik Mining introduced a more powerful generation of longwall gateroad development machines.

All Sandvik Bolter Miners have a unique sump mechanism, which enables them to cut and bolt at the same time. This is the key to high-speed gateroad development.

Managing good control over dust at the face is a prime concern for the operator’s health and safety. Sandvik know-how in cutting tools and machine design helped in designing a cutter drum with a very low cutting speed of 31 rpm, compared to the competition’s 60 rpm.

The lower cutting speed delivers high torque and higher cutting forces, as well as generating considerably less dust during the cutting process. Lower cutting speed also ensures low noise levels.

The MSHA approved MB610 was specifically developed for the U.S. market to meet the demand of maximum time between rebuilds. Most machines in the market need to be rebuilt within one or two years of operation. The design of this machine will at least double this time. With a weight of 112 short tons, it also provides ample cutting stability. The low minimum tramming height of 2 m allows efficient tramming of the machine within the mine infrastructure.

The mine floor has to be kept in good condition during cutting, when the maximum forces are transferred to the floor. The MB610 features four auto-stabilizers (two front and two rear) which ensure a very low ground pressure of 25 psi (17 N/cm2).

The MB610 features a unique movement of cutter drum and loading pan, which allows independent movement of the cutter drum and loading table, enabling excellent maneuverability to cut a nice clean 90° cross cut within a short radius. The MB610 roof bolters can tilt 37°, allowing more flexibility in bolting patterns.

The MB610 prototype was commissioned at CONSOL Bailey at the end of October 2011 and has consistently been the top performer since then. From November 1, 2011, to July 31, 2012, the machine has cut and bolted a total of 40,460 ft (12,230 m) of gateroad.

GE Mining
GE Mining unveiled its Invertex electric drive systems for underground vehicles. The systems combine an AC drive system and an advanced Durathon battery energy storage system to propel underground mining vehicles with improved performance, increased reliability and lower life-cycle costs. The units feature a compact variable frequency combo-drive that controls the traction and pump motors and is designed to improve wheel slip and speed-on-grade. The traction motor features frameless construction to reduce overall weight, a waterproof design to withstand wet conditions and an easy-access connection cavity. The advanced, scalable system controller offers multiple communications protocol channels, and a compact smart display shows real-time vehicle and system diagnostics. The Durathon battery is 50% smaller and 25% lighter than traditional batteries, enabling more energy to be stored in a smaller space. The smaller battery package makes the unit lighter for less tire wear and now offers better maneuverability in tight places.

Siemens Highlights the Entire Lifecycle
Siemens Mining Technology highlighted the importance of energy-efficient and eco-friendly products, systems, solutions and services for the entire lifecycle of industry plants within the mining industry. Five special breakout sessions were held regarding autonomous mining solutions, energy trends, gearless drives for overland conveyors and mining challenges.

The global mining industry faces major challenges: improving productivity while simultaneously decreasing costs. Mining companies need high-performance products that are also energy-efficient and offer maximum availability and flexibility. Such products also need to comply with environmental regulations while providing maximum safety for employees, machines and material. Siemens supplies products and applications that meet customers’ exacting requirements.

The Simine product family, according to Siemens, will help the mining industry achieve its goals. The Siemens Drive Technologies Division links up automation, drive and power supply systems to form one all-round platform. The portfolio can be used for primary tasks such as the extraction, transportation and processing of raw materials, as well as for secondary processes such as supplying power and water processing through to plant service and maintenance. The Simine Winder, for example, enables safe and high-performance movement of men and materials. The key element of the drives solution is a standardized control and safety system based on Sinamics converters. In the Simine Drag and Simine TR product groups, Siemens drives and motors ensure higher speed and productivity of mining trucks and excavators.

Simine provides all-round electrical solutions that are suited to the tough conditions in day-to-day operation and which are aimed at achieving a reliable overall performance of belt systems in mines: either fixed or variable-speed drives are used, depending on the requirements placed on the equipment. The result is less wear on components and lower energy consumption.

Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Next-Gen Mining Portfolio
Thermo Fisher Scientific exhibited its Next-Gen Mining portfolio. The company’s highly integrated range of instruments, equipment and consumables, anchored by its laboratory information management system (LIMS), addresses all segments of the mining process.

The new Thermo Scientific Ramsey Micro-Tech 9000 Electronics platform provides enhanced communications and connectivity for process industry weighing and monitoring applications. Built-in Ethernet and USB capabilities improve system communication and prevent downtime by enabling independent load cell troubleshooting.

The Thermo Scientific Personal Dust Monitor PDM3600 has been specifically design for U.S.-based mining applications, protecting mine personnel by ensuring that shift-average respirable dust exposure does not exceed regulatory limits. The monitor is designed to be a first line of defense in preventing long-term effects from exposure.

The Thermo Scientific Nitus Gamma Backscatter (GBS) Gauge measures level, density and wall buildup in large mining vessels of any size and in pipes 24 inches or larger. Backed by patented, non-contacting gamma backscatter technology, the sensor on the Nitus gauge features a highly stable and sensitive scintillation detector that enables it to respond instantly to level or density changes so plant personnel can optimize process efficiency and maximize productivity.

Thermo Scientific elemental and particle size analyzers, coupled with sampling systems, provide an integrated solution that maximizes availability and accuracy with minimal head loss. Instruments such as the Thermo Scientific AnStat 230 Analysis and Sampling Station supply reliable, accurate process data and lead to improved recovery, lower costs and environmental compliance.

Thermo Scientific SampleManager LIMS enables field and onsite laboratory and plant managers to continuously track, monitor, measure, analyze and report on all activities. Enhanced compliance features tie instrument and operator information to calibration samples and results so instrument configuration, along with operator name and training level, can be automatically rendered. Managers can produce a full audit trail for ISO 17025 or regulatory requirements and gather, review and quickly drill down on real-time data in a dynamic environment.

SampleManager LIMS provides interactive graphs, charts, tables, maps and many other data mining tools for real-time information and decision-making. It is flexible and configurable to accommodate various workflows and integrates easily with other applications and instruments inside and outside a lab, providing one standard user interface that helps mining companies maintain process standardization across multiple labs.

Phoenix Lighting Replaces Floodlights with LED Fixtures
Phoenix Products’ ModCom Series is an instant-on, surface-mounted LED fixture designed to replace high wattage HID floodlights. The LED luminaire delivers up to 25,000 lumens and offers a 70% energy savings when compared to a 1000W HPS fixture. Backed by a five-year warranty, the ModCom is designed to provide years of service with virtually no maintenance, even when installed in harsh environments. Conformal coated circuit boards, fully-potted premium-brand drivers, and stranded wires are among the design features that help protect against water ingress and vibration damage. Premium-brand LEDs are rated for 50,000 hours.

Minova Introduces its Tensionable Cable Bolt
Minova’s patented new Tensionable Cable Bolt (TCB) system offers a reliable anchoring solution for the most challenging geologies. With the cylinder’s nut and matching bearing plate, the system allows the cables to be tensioned during on-going bolting operations. Compared to traditional bolting technology this feature guarantees improved support for sidewalls and roof structures.

The TCB system is bolted into boreholes before tensioning the cable. Placing this anchorage at a higher point in the roof helps avoid the common risk of anchorage shock when loads are applied. The powder coated nut and cylinder reveals the setting of the bolt even after anchoring and helps protect the steel system from wear and corrosion.

The TCB is suited as primary and secondary support for traditional cable bolts in applications that need stronger holds. The new TBC system does not require any new equipment and is a perfect choice for all applications that call for a durable solution with additional support, including tunnel intersections.

Sleipner Excavator Transport System
The Finnish company Sleipner has developed a system to move tracked excavators in open-pit mines efficiently and much more economically in comparison to the machine moving on tracks. The Sleipner system saves time and money and considerably increases the excavator’s life. The system is able to move excavators up to 550 metric tons.

A Sleipner is essentially a dolly system, consisting of ramps with axles and largewheels. One end of the excavator’s tracks is driven on the ramps so that the tracks are lifted from the ground. Then the excavator turns around and places the boom on the bed of a dump truck. Now the other end is raised from ground by the hydraulic force of the boom. As the excavator is now on wheels the machine is easily transported to the desired location on site. The whole process is carried out in a fraction of time compared to walking the same distance on tracks.

The system improves the mine’s ability to plan and reduces undercarriage wear, explained Jaako Lipsanen, vice president sales. “Yes, the Sleipner is a very safe,” Lipsanen said. “Everything is handled from inside the cabin. Even if the worst happens, the machine is not very high off the ground. The operator can stop the movement simply by lowering the crawler pads.”

“The Sleipner increases the efficiency of the mine site because it allows you to quickly relocate the mining tools around the mine site,” said Brendan Vaughan, mining manager, WATPAC Civil & Mining, a mining company based in Western Australia. “The exercise of moving an RH 200 from one pit to another could take as long was a shift and it would require a support crew. The Sleipner would reduce that move to less than an hour. I have seen complex moves that would have taken six hours reduced to 15 minutes.

Maintenance crews like the Sleipner, Vaughan explained, because they can quickly transport a machine to a better location to service the unit. “Rebuilding an RH 200 undercarriage will costs about $1 million,” Vaughan said. “Your investment in a Sleipner would be a lot less. The Sleipner is a game changer.”

Typically it’s believed that an undercarriage would be replaced five times during the life of a mining-class excavator. The Sleipner could reduce that to two replacements. The units can move quickly, but Sleipner recommends holding the speeds down to 15 km/hr for safety purposes. There are no issues with grade and it takes about 10 to 15 minutes assemble the system.