The process involves driving a cutter module into the coal seam using a remotely operated miner. A penetration depth of 300-400 metres is made into the coal seam, at which point the cutterhead performs a shearing action to mine the coal. Material conveying belts then transport the cut coal out of the seam.
Key fact: Highwall mining systems propel the cutter module with a pushing force of around 133 tonnes, and retract it with a pulling capacity of 275 tonnes
The maximum penetration depth depends on the steepness of the seam. Greater penetration depths can be reached where there are flatter slopes, but steeply dipping deposits could exceed the maximum operating angle, thus requiring a shallower penetration depth.
Optimising coal recovery while maintaining highwall stability is key, and requires data-driven geotechnical designs that consider the stability of mining slopes, openings, and pillars. These parameters inform the maximum pulling capacity, cutterhead traction, and material conveying of the machine to ensure operational safety.
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