AMSJ » Tunnel boring machine a safety first on coal mine

Tunnel boring machine a safety first on coal mine

TBM HR closeIn a Queensland coal industry first, a tunnel boring machine (TBM) is being used for drift excavation at a Central Queensland coal mine.

Contractor, Redpath, will operate the eight metre diameter TBM at Anglo American’s Grosvenor coal mine to excavate two drifts, instead of the traditional method of using a road header.

Redpath’s General Manager of Coal, Gavin Ramage, said the TBM will provide a safer, quicker and more stable excavation option.

“The tunnel boring machine is expected to excavate drifts at least three times faster than a road header, which provides much quicker access to the coal,” Mr Ramage says.

“There are also a number of safety benefits associated with using the TBM, mainly from the highly stable and durable ground support required, which has a 50 year life expectancy, as opposed to the less stable support used for a road header.”

Anglo American’s Grosvenor Project Manager, Glenn Tonkin, said the Anglo American team was excited to be pioneering this innovative tunnelling method to build the five million tonne per annum Grosvenor mine.

“The $40 million earth pressure balance machine is under assembly on site and will be ready to break ground next month,” says Mr Tonkin.

“The innovative TBM tunnelling method will allow us to reach the coal seam by December this year, bringing us that step closer to longwall production in late 2016,” he said.

When using a TBM the ground support required is similar to that of cross-city tunnels, highly stable and long-term, which results in a safer environment for the teams of workers who access the drift and operate the conveyor system.

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