Benchmarking Study of Underground Coal Mine Logistics

Underground » Roadway Development

Published: March 20Project Number: C28021

Get ReportAuthor: David Walker, Chris Harvey, Ernest Baafi, Ian Porter, Senevi Kiridena | University of Wollongong

This project investigated the management of logistics within underground coal mines in Australia and considered mechanisms that might be utilised to ensure the movement of personnel and materials in and around a mine is achieved in a timely and efficient manner. Optimising the development of roadways in underground coal mines as operations expand means any increase in the development rate will require more efficient logistics management, especially the timely supply of roof support materials (bolts, chemicals and mesh) to each active face area.

This project undertook a range of site visits underground coal mines with the aim to:

  • Consider the various constraints associated with underground coal mining operations
  • Review how logistics management is addressed in various mines
  • Develop conclusions/recommendations with the primary aim to support the efficient movement of personnel and essential materials in and around an underground coal mine.

The following key findings were identified:

  • Logistics management in general is not considered as a key issue when initial or long-term planning is undertaken. It is therefore assumed that whatever production targets are set that logistics can keep up or that it is retrospectively managed after an identifiable bottleneck.
  • The need to improve logistics management is only considered when travel times to the face exceed 30 minutes and when production has the potential to be adversely impacted by waiting on supplies.
  • Any improvements to logistics management are largely left for workers to resolve with minimal direct input from management. Whilst this may be beneficial with empowered self-directed workforces, bigger logistical issues may not be able to be solved without a more corporate approach. Some of the higher producing operations have prioritised the corporate approach, whilst some of the more ad-hoc approaches have had a hands off style from senior management.
  • The age of a mine can determine the amount of double or multiple handling of supplies and thereby impact upon efficient logistics management.
  • The pay load capacity of rubber tyred machines is seen as a major limitation on efficient logistics management.
  • The use of rubber tyred machines and their corresponding load limitations has led to the need for multiple journeys into and out of the mine and associated inefficiencies in logistics management.

The following recommendations represent mechanisms which could be implemented to improve logistics. In general terms the approach is to reduce the range of variables that impact on logistics management, and wherever possible simplify and standardise processes and procedures.

These recommendations to improve logistics management, have been divided into three categories - short term, mid term and long term.  These are detailed in the report.


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