CSIRO commercialises mine automation innovation

Tuesday, 21 October, 2008

CSIRO Exploration & Mining has signed an agreement to commercialise new mining automation technology with Joy Australasia, one of the world’s largest longwall mining original equipment manufacturers.

The agreement, signed at the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies, provides Joy Australasia with a worldwide, non-exclusive licence for the commercialisation of the LASC technology, CSIRO’s innovative underground longwall automation system.

The principal components of the LASC automation system include face alignment and horizon control, as well as the communications, operator interface and information systems.

“The goal was to provide automated systems that would improve productivity and move people away from a hazardous working environment,” says Dr David Hainsworth, senior principal research engineer with CSIRO Exploration & Mining.

“If you can move people even 50 m away from where the action is, you can improve safety by distancing them from the mechanical and hydraulic energy and a dusty environment.”

Pre-commercial prototypes of the technology have been operating at three Australian mines, including Xstrata’s Beltana longwall mine, Australia's most productive longwall coalmine.

Joy Australasia MD Mark Finlay said Joy is delighted to gain access to CSIRO’s technology.

“It will enhance our existing longwall mining solutions and contribute towards optimising longwall equipment performance in changing seam conditions,” he said.

“This technology supports the industry vision of improved safety, productivity and reliability at the lowest cost per tonne.”

Non-exclusive licence agreements with other Australian and overseas longwall equipment manufacturers are expected to follow shortly.

Longwall coalmining accounts for about 90% of underground coal production in Australia, which is more than 70 million tonnes a year.


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