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Elkview Ramps Up - Coal Mining

John Chadwick

February 4,2002

Elkview ramps up
John Chadwick explains how GPS-based systems are helping efforts to raise output to take advantage of strong coal markets

In 1999 Elkview produced 2.8 Mt (clean) of high-quality metallurgical coal, last year output was up to 4.1 Mt (clean). This year the target is 5.6 Mt of clean coal, which will also require 98 Mt of waste to be removed. The ramp up continues into 2002 with a target of 6 Mt (plus 115 Mt waste). This Teck-owned mine is using Caterpillar’s Computer Aided Earthmoving System (CAES) (see also MM, November 1998, p.12 and May 1998, p.312) on cable shovels and tractor dozers and Aquila drill management systems on its blasthole drills.

CAES uses machine-mounted computers in conjunction with GPS receivers, data radios and onboard and office displays to provide machine operators and mine management with real-time information about the earthmoving task. Earthmoving plans are transferred electronically to the machine's onboard computer and are displayed to the operator as colour graphics. The information displayed includes two- and three-dimensional topographic maps, desired grades and slopes, and geometric descriptions of orebodies, coal seams or other mining features.

The Aquila system allows the location of a blasthole drill's bit to be accurately determined in three dimensions. The position of the drill is displayed to the operator via a real-time, Moving Map Display (MMD) on an LCD-VGA screen. The MMD allows accurate navigation from blasthole to blasthole. MMD maps are downloaded into operators' cabs as required.