New Acland trials new technology

7 May 2014

The New Hope Group’s New Acland coal mine will soon start an in-depth trial of a $7 million surface mining machine.

The four-month trial will be conducted to test whether the German-built Wirtgen machine will be able to mine the thin coal seams at New Acland in much the same way as its smaller cousin pulls up old road and bitumen surfaces.

“There are similar machines used in mining operations in the USA, Turkey and China, so it will be interesting to see how this machine performs here at New Acland,” New Acland General Manager Andrew McDonald said.

“This is meant to be a very efficient way to extract the coal from thin seams, and it can also load directly onto the haul trucks via an attached conveyor system.

“It may also reduce the need for blasting, which could offer significant savings for mining operations.”

“While similar machines have been trialled before in coal mining operations, and are used in iron ore mines in Western Australia, this is the first in-depth trial of this kind in an open-cut coal mine in Australia that we know of.

“We will run extensive tests in both cutting and separating the layers of dirt on top of and in-between the coal seams - and the coal itself - and then loading it onto haul trucks via the machine’s own conveyor system.”

The Wirtgen miner arrived from Germany at New Acland this week.

The operational trials are expected to begin later this month after the machine is fully assembled and training has been conducted.