Technology and Feasibility of Potential Underground Thick Seam Mining Methods

Underground » Ventilation, Gas Drainage and Monitoring

Published: April 02Project Number: C8009

Get ReportAuthor: Bruce Hebblewhite, Y Cai, A Simonis | University of New South Wales, CMTE

In Australia there are over 17 Billion tonnes of resources of thick coal seams applicable to extraction by underground methods. There have been a number of research investigations over the past twenty years to investigate safe and efficient means of extracting these resources. However the maximum underground mining height used in a high production operation in Australia remains approximately 5m.

The most recent of these research investigations was the pre-cursor to this current project. The original project C6038 Underground thick seam mining: Old problems, new technologies conducted by the School of Mining Engineering, UNSW and CMTE, under the same collaborative arrangements as this current project. Four priority mining methods were identified as having the maximum potential application in Australia's thick seam resources:

  • single pass longwall (SPL),
  • caving longwall (CL),
  • multi-pass longwall (MPL) and
  • hydraulic mining (HM).

The objectives of this current research project were to conduct a detailed investigation into the overall mining system and technology components of the systems listed above, with emphasis on three methods - SPL, MSL, HM. The investigations were to include:

  • Ability to up-scale production levels, productivity and hence the economic viability above current best practice for each method.
  • Identification of the detailed equipment requirements necessary to achieve the above objective.
  • Geotechnical design studies on critical issues identified from previous ACARP project.
  • Critical review, economic evaluation and risk assessment of methods under review.

As the project investigations proceeded, several critical factors became clear. Firstly, the previous project had left the generic 'caving longwall' method, essentially the original European style 'soutirage' mining system, out of the top three priority methods. This was based on poor operational experiences in Europe and China, and also a high level of perceived risk with issues such as spontaneous combustion and dust management.

Longwall Top Coal Caving Method
However, during this project, the project team became aware of the significant advances being made in China with a modified version of the soutirage method, known as Longwall Top Coal Caving (LTCC). This method was identified as having not only the potential to be an alternative to soutirage, but as a top priority thick seam method, in comparison with all other options.

It has been concluded that if this method to be considered in this country, there are still a number of issues that must be resolved. The problem of coal/goaf interface detection is of particular importance, if levels of dilution are to be reduced. In addition, environmental issues such as dust suppression and spontaneous combustion still need to be further examined.


Health and safety, productivity and environment initiatives.

Recently Completed Projects

C27039True Triaxial Strength Of Coal Measure Rocks And Its Impact On Roadway Stability And Coal Burst Assessment

Rocks in the ground are subject to a range of stresses. The stresses...

C3063Underground Vehicle Design Standards And Statutory Implications

The Australian underground diesel vehicle fleet has evolved since di...

C3064Conveyor Belting And Lagging Shear Characteristics - Drive Drum Slip

The primary aim of this project was to investigate the relationsh...


Open Cut

Safety, productivity and the right to operate are priorities for open cut mine research.

Recently Completed Projects

C26029Geological Controls On Fluorine And Phosphorus In Bowen Basin Coals

Increasing global restrictions on fluorine in product coal prompted ...

C28033Raw Ash To Yield Relationships

Correct outcomes in yield predictions for product ash from coal bore...

C27038Establishing Self-Sustaining And Recognisable Ecological Mine Rehabilitation

In recent years an increasing interest has been placed on mining ope...

Open Cut

Coal Preparation

Maximising throughput and yield while minimising costs and emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C27064Dry Beneficiation Using FGX And X-Ray Sorters

Conventional dry processing methods engage a single beneficiation de...

C26010Multi-Sloped Screening Efficiency With Changing Strokes, Frequencies, Feed Solids And Feed Rates-Pilot Plant Study

Optimising multi-sloped screens is often described as an art and the...

C28059Impact Of Water Quality In Coal Handling And Preparations Plants

The objective of this project was to deliver a concise reference do...

Coal Preparation

Technical Market Support

Market acceptance and emphasising the advantages of Australian coals.

Technical Market Support

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the production of coal.

Recently Completed Projects

C23052Novel Stone Dust Looping Process For Ventilation Air Methane Abatement

This multi‐phase project is concerned with the mitigation of m...

C27054Optimisation Of A Thermal Flow Reversal Reactor For Ventilation Air Methane Mitigation

Ventilation air methane (VAM) generally accounts for 50-85% of the t...

C28076Selective Absorption Of Methane By Ionic Liquids (SAMIL) - Phase 2 Demonstration In A Packed Bed Reactor

An alternative approach to high temperature oxidation of ventilation...

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Low Emission Coal Use

Step-change technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C17060BGasification Of Australian Coals

Four Australian coals were trialled in the Siemens 5 MWth pilot scale ga...

C17060AOxyfuel Technology For Carbon Capture And Storage Critical Clean Coal Technology - Interim Support

The status of oxy-fuel technology for first-generation plant is indicate...

C18007Review Of Underground Coal Gasification

This report consists of a broad review of underground coal gasification,...

Low Emission Coal Use

Mining And The Community

The relationship between mines and the local community.

Recently Completed Projects

C16027Assessing Housing And Labour Market Impacts Of Mining Developments In Bowen Basin Communities

The focus of this ACARP-funded project has been to identify a number...

C22029Understanding And Managing Cumulative Impacts Of Coal Mining And Other Land Uses In Regions With Diversified Economies

The coal industry operates in the context of competing land-uses that sh...

C23016Approval And Planning Assessment Of Black Coal Mines In NSW And Qld: A Review Of Economic Assessment Techniques

This reports on issues surrounding economic assessment and analysis ...

Mining And The Community


National Energy Research,Development & Demonstration Council (NERDDC) reports - pre 1992.

Recently Completed Projects

1609-C1609Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

1301-C1301Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development...

Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development and Extraction Operations

0033-C1356Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals...

Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals - An Industry Handbook