By Robert Ochsner, chief engineer, Signal Peak Energy

Signal Peak Energy is the only underground coal mine in Montana and it started longwall mining operations in 2009 and is presently mining its sixth panel. These panels are 1,250-ft wide and typically vary between 18,000 ft and 22,000 feet in length.

Each panel typically has between 10 million and 14 million raw tons, and will operate from 12 months to 16 months. This presents several unique challenges, such as:

  • Ensuring the equipment is rebuilt for a complete panel without significant downtime or major exchanges;
  • Predictive analysis of wear prior to failures of components, such as chain, flights, gearboxes and sprockets; and
  • Optimum shift and manpower scheduling to optimize production and maintenance.

This presentation will also address roof support asset management for optimizing the life of the reserve, as well as the use of face automation to maximize productivity. This presentation will expand of these issues that SPE faces on a daily basis.