Coal, Commodities, Mining Services, News

RPM teams up with coal miners to develop new software


RPMGlobal (RPM) has collaborated with some of Australia’s largest underground coal miners to develop a new gas drainage scheduling capability inside its XPAC Underground Coal Solution (UGCS).

For many coal mining organisations, understanding the impact of gas drainage activities on production can be an extremely challenging task. Until now, there were no software solutions dedicated to this specific task.

Engineers were forced to rely on spreadsheets to understand when the drainage of each gateroad was completed, and therefore the associated impacts on the critical development required for the next longwall move.

According to RPM head of product strategy David Batkin, because of the disparate systems, it has been hard to consider gas drainage at the same time as the mine’s production schedule.

“The gas drainage functionality of UGCS provides a step-change in scheduling gassy underground coal mines,” he said.

“The solution tightly integrates the drainage activities into both the mine design and the scheduling processes. It makes gas drainage a key consideration every time the schedule is updated.”

The solution allows the user to directly include factors that influence drainage times – like gas content and permeability – into the in-situ model.

When users design a series of longwall panels, gas drainage stubs can be inserted automatically, along with the associated patterns that will be drilled from them.

These drill pattern envelopes adjust dynamically based on the longwall dimensions and gateroad properties, but users are also free to refine everything in the model.

The rigs used to perform the gas drainage drilling are treated as independent resources and are scheduled in the same way as continuous miners and longwalls.

Rules govern when the drill sites become available and as soon as they have been drilled, the schedule starts tracking drainage status.

Mitigation strategies for gas drainage challenges are typically required several years in advance if they are to be effective. A range of tools have been provided to analyse these challenges and communicate when they need to be implemented.

Animations highlight the status of drill sites, so it’s clear when they are available for drilling, when they are drilled and when they are being drained.

The drainage status of all development is also displayed, and warnings are generated automatically whenever mining is impacted by incomplete drainage.

This gas drainage module will be available in the next release of the UGCS. For more information on upgrades and gas drainage functionality, contact the RPM support team or an RPM customer success representative.

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