Adoption of continuous miners in underground coal is growing


October 2019
Adoption of continuous miners in underground coal is growing

Komatsu Mining Corp is a major equipment manufacturer in underground mining operations. Shib Bhowmik, Managing Director, Komatsu Mining Corp, India elaborates on the company's solutions to the industry and the market scenario.

Which are the minerals mined by underground mining?
Major minerals mined in India through underground mining are coal, zinc, copper and gold. Among these, there is high level of mechanisation selectively in zinc and coal mining, whereas all other minerals are mined through drill and blast method. But there is increasing trend of continuous mining mechanisation in coal mining by adopting continuous miners in underground coal.

What are the major risks involved in underground mining?
Complexities in underground mining are somewhat different compared to surface mining methods. These challenges emanate from inherent geology and rock conditions. Also, space restrictions, ventilation, lighting, supporting roof and safety issues arising from man machine interface are other challenges.

Which are the major equipment used in underground mining applications?
Major equipment for underground coal mining are continuous miners (CMs), shuttle cars, feeder breakers and roof bolting equipment. Room and pillar mechanisation are being increasingly done through continuous mining with CMs.

Could you elaborate on your range of equipment for underground mining? Who are your major customers?
The ultimate customers of Komatsu Mining Corp (KMC) in India are subsidiaries of Coal India and Singareni Collieries Co. Some captive coal mine owners are also prospective customers. For soft rock underground mining, KMC's equipment range from full offering of longwall equipment comprising shearer, hydraulic powered supports, AFC, feeder breaker and other equipment. For room and pillar, KMC offers a range of continuous miners to suit various seam thickness, production capacity, matching shuttle cars, feeder breakers, bolting rigs and other equipment. For hard rock mining, KMC offers a range of drilling equipment, loading equipment, low profile dump trucks, conveyors and bolting machines.

What are the new developments in equipment and technologies in underground mining? How IoT and digital technologies are evolving in underground mining?
Komatsu Mining is in the forefront of automation and digitisation of underground operation. Automated and connected equipment are now standard in many of the offerings.

What is your take on the future trend of underground mining in India?
Due to several reasons including environmental restrictions and geological reasons, focus on underground mining will increase in the time to come. However, there will be mechanisation efforts mainly in coal and some zinc mines in India. Several other criteria will also determine the future of underground mining in India, namely government policies, regulatory environment and economic factors.

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