“Consistent with CONSOL Energy’s core values of safety, compliance and continuous improvement, the new Cat technology incorporated within this equipment will help us improve the safety and efficiency of all four mines,” said Bart Hyita, COO, Energy Operations, CONSOL Energy. “We are excited to deploy the latest innovations that Caterpillar has to offer and are confident that they will allow us to continue to improve safety and to be the lowest cost producer in the United States and to maintain our competitive position in domestic and international coal markets.”

In addition to the four mines receiving complete roof support systems from the Cat facilities in Lünen, Germany, CONSOL’s McElroy mine will receive 60 roof supports to be used in extending the longwall face. Also, the Enlow Fork mine as well as Shoemaker will upgrade to Cat PMC-R electro-hydraulic control systems. After retrofit of the old systems, CONSOL will operate a total of nine faces with PMC-R control systems. Of these, CONSOL will equip seven longwalls with Cat Detect Personnel. CONSOL plans to make the use of PMC-R controls standard in all its mines.

All of the CONSOL mines getting new equipment are mining the Pittsburgh No. 8 seam in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. The Bailey and BMX mines in Pennsylvania will take delivery of 25.4-metric-ton (mt) roof supports with 380-mm diameter props. The roof supports will operate on 1,750-mm centers and have an operating range of 1.295 to 2.743 m. The Shoemaker and Robinson Run mines in West Virginia will operate 22.9-mt roof supports with 345-mm diameter props, with an operating range of 1.245 to 2.743 m. All four mines will have identical face end supports weighing 29.8-mt and having an operating range of 1.295 to 3.048 m.

The PMC-R electro-hydraulic control system operating each longwall has sufficient computing power and data transfer speed to allow adding remote and semi-autonomous face operation.  All roof supports will be readied for the retrofit installation of the Cat MotionMonitor system. MotionMonitor employs the use of several strategically placed inclinometers that supply angularity data to the PMC-R system.  With this data the system can calculate the geometric attitude (pitch, roll and yaw) of each roof support. That information is needed to steer the face when operating in a semi-autonomous or autonomous mode.

By monitoring the angular rate-of-change during times when the roof support has not been given a command to move, the system also can be used to detect unexpected movement of roof supports as well as roof convergence. The detection of unexpected movements helps in preventing equipment collisions and enhances prediction of impending geologic activity such as rockbursts.  

All roof supports will be equipped with Cat Detect Personnel, part of the Detect capability set of Cat MineStar System. The system has the ability to accurately and reliably identify the presence of personnel and to transmit this information in real time to the local roof support control system to allow appropriate action to be taken to prevent injury.

The BMX mine will be supplied with two complete 470-m-long PF6 AFC equipped with P-65 Controlled Start Transmissions (CSTs) and KP-65 CST AFC drive with installed power of 3 x 1,200 kW. These PF6 AFCs have a width of 1.142 m and can convey a maximum of 3,500 mt/h.

The PF6 design separates wear parts from structural parts. The combination of welded and cast pans achieves an anticipated three-fold increase in the life of structural plates. The replaceable top race is made of extremely hard, wear-resistant materials while the supporting structural parts are made of high-strength steels. Robot welders attach the top race with standard welds that can be removed automatically for trough replacement. The innovative design combined with precision engineering and smooth rolled steel surfaces results in a substantial reduction of friction and wear, making the PF6 ideal for ultra-long panels.