By Jacob Smith, engineering manager, Sufco mine, Bowie Resources

Due to recent environmental concerns and political pressure, coal producers today face unprecedented challenges to maintain profitability as market demands have decreased. Capital reduction, through the transformation and repurposing of equipment, can provide operators with a competitive advantage while maintaining productivity and occupational safety.

The Sufco mine, which is owned by Canyon Fuel Co., a subsidiary of Bowie Resource Partners, has been operating continuously since 1941. Recently, Sufco has used this financial strategy as a solution to the unique geological constraints the mine will face in the next five years.

In 2016, Sufco teamed with Joy Global (now Komatsu Mining Corp.) to refurbish 168 Joy powered roof supports that were previously operated at the Dugout Canyon mine from 2002 through 2012. During the repair process, several design modifications were made, including a complete rear-bridge replacement and canopy tip-extension. Sufco also teamed with Komatsu to manufacture two new sets of armored face conveyor (AFC) panline. However, Sufco elected to continue to use the Caterpillar (Cat) stage loader and AFC drives.

This project is a great example of how detailed planning and collaboration with vendors can provide operators today with the ability to reduce capital by transforming and repurposing existing equipment.