Khutala Colliery

MinLog delivers the goods for BHP Billiton’s BECSA Khutala colliery

COMMODITY: Thermal Coal
OPERATION: Underground Coal Cutting
TYPE OF ENVIRONMENT: Underground Room and Pillar Coal Cutting operated by continuous miners, inclusive of the washing and screening surface plant
SOLUTIONS DEPLOYED: BECSA Mining Execution System, comprising of MineSuite MIS configured for coal cutting, underground and surface plant

 

Background

Situated approximately 55km from Witbank in South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province, the BHP Billiton BECSA Khutala Colliery’s entire yield of underground coal is used by the nearby Eskom Kendal Power Station.

Khutala has 14 underground coal cutting sections in the Room and Pillar operation. BHP Billiton Energy Coal is embarking on a move to implement an MES on the operational layer at all its mines in an effort to–amongst other reasons–ensure accurate information towards their SAP 1 initiative. As one of the larger underground coal mines, Khutala required a system to span the entire process reporting on equipment and section performance as well as material movement.

Requirement

Before MinLog was brought on board, all data concerning section and equipment performance was captured manually on log sheets by control room operators, after which it was re-entered into a spread-sheet environment before being processed. This created room for human error as well as inconsistencies as to the computation of KPIs, a lack of standards and an inability to create a common information base serving the purposes of all disciplines.

Khutala needed to improve the availability, reliability and accuracy of production and engineering maintenance information, both from an in-shift and end-of-period perspective.

Challenges

It is essential for coal cutting operations to monitor operational efficiency from both an area based and process perspective as well as to manage and track inventory and product flow from the face to underground bunkers, to the plant, through the plant and ultimately to the load out station. A complicating factor associated with this type of operation is the fact that though performance needs to be reported against section, equipment such as continuous miners can over a period of time be associated with more than one section. With the composition of sections changing over time, a unique challenge lies in providing for the automation of section composition from a ‘parent/child’ inheritance perspective upon re-allocation of equipment.

Technically, tracking production, engineering and operational events in real-time, across a myriad of system is a challenge inherent to such an operation. This calls for, for example, real-time interfaces with coal cutting equipment, fixed plant, conveyor belts as well as the surface beneficiation plant.

The Solution

MineSuite’s ability to model mobile equipment, fixed plant and plant hierarchies as well as its ability to provide for up and down stream association and parent/child inheritance made for an ideal fit for the Khutala’s requirements. For Khutala, MinLog modelled the underground equipment and plant in such a way that performance could be measured against the relevant section. The solution not only adequately delivered on this but also allowed operators to revisit section composition on the fly by, for example, reassigning continuous miners between sections.

As part of the solution, MinLog configured the MineSuite MIS environment to interface with OEM continuous miners, as well as the UG and surface beneficiation SCADA and related automation systems. The functionality delivered was supplemented by the introduction of the MineSuite ELS utility that provides for manual data entry and the dynamic production monitoring utility for distributing real-time information in a graphical format across the mine-wide LAN.

By deploying MineSuite to track production and engineering events, from the face and through the surface plant, MinLog gave Khutala a single MIS environment that spanned the boundaries of systems, processes and disciplines.

Outcome

Khutala’s management now has access to in-shift and end-of period information relating to processes performance as well as product flow from both the underground production and surface processing plant perspective. MinLog is currently working with Khutala to introduce the MineSuite Breakdown Tracking module, to interface the Khutala MIS environment with their imminent SAP 1 implementation and to upgrade their reporting environment to provide for interactive drill-down reporting and management dashboards.