News

Mine could go on auto

Automated mining machinery may be the key to keeping Norwich Park coal mine open after BMA stopped operations there last week.
Automated mining machinery may be the key to keeping Norwich Park coal mine open after BMA stopped operations there last week. Contributed

GETTING rid of the miners could be the key to keeping the limping Norwich Park Mine operating in Central Queensland.

The BMA-owned mine is due to be mothballed in mid-May, costing 1400 jobs in the region although many of those will be taken up elsewhere.

Before the closure was announced, APN learned the mining Goliath was preparing to roll out automated machinery within the next six months.

The developers of the technology, Swedish manufacturers Sandvik, believe mining companies would eventually have miner-free projects.

This is something dismissed by BHP Billiton, which manages the seven BMA projects in the Bowen Basin.

Unmanned loaders and dump trucks could be controlled from a remote command room, removing the underground mine worker from the equation.

Each dump truck runs automatically in and out of the mine non-stop, while the controller simply tells the loader - something like a bulldozer - when to load them with coal.

It could increase flagging production at the site, increase safety because fewer miners would be in harm's way, and machine maintenance could be eased because they were driven predictably.

A lesser reliance on workers would also be desirable to unions continuing more than 16 months of industrial action.

This technology is being developed by Swedish manufacturers Sandvik, and Norwich Park could still be one of their testing grounds.

Before word of its closure, Sandvik regional automation manager Pieter Prinsloocorr said Norwich Park could be its first testing ground in Queensland.

"The system is programmed so it does the traffic control, avoiding collisions underground," he said.

"Once you start doing the first stage of automation, you expect to eventually move to other parts of the mine.

"You're talking about the totally automated mines, that's what Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are moving towards."

It is understood the deal between Sandvik and BHP Billiton for this machinery has not changed since its proposed closure.

A BHP Billiton spokesman said it would always pursue proven technology but so far had no plans to fully automate projects.

He said the review into Norwich Park's viability found it would need "significant changes to the mining sequence, mining processes, workforce structure and organisational arrangements" to be profitable.

Topics:  central queensland miners norwich park mine



Six hideaway bars to escape winter chill

THE last season of GoT finally uttered the words we’ve been waiting six seasons to hear and now that the weather has cooled down in Brisbane, “winter is here.”

Our six art gallery picks for a creative day out

Queensland's Gallery of Modern Art always has a fun, exciting and interesting exhibition on show for the whole family to enjoy.

YOU'D be mistaken in thinking Brisbane wasn't an arty city.

Brisbane's arts and culture events centre stage

You loved the film, now you're about to love the musical. Don't miss The Bodyguard The Musical in Brisbane this July.

THE arts and culture events you don't want to miss.

Homewares stores to fulfil your Instagram dreams

No Caption

You too can become an Insta-star with these fab stores.

Date nights under $50

Nothing is more romantic than a picnic with a cracking view.

NOT every date has to cost you a bomb.

Top 10 Brisbane experiences to cross off your bucket list

Do yourself a favour and get amongst the food truck scene. Eat Street is a great place to start.

A GOOD bucket list doesn’t have to span continents or cost millions.

Six mega sporting events you need to be at this year

Don't miss all the action trackside this season.

IF THERE is one thing Brisbane does damn well, it’s play host.

University career put on hold for the greater good

Jack Nicoll is heading to Tanzania to help with charity work.

Rocky to Tanzania for charity mission

Strelow stays positive on Adani talks

Mines Minister Anthony Lynham, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Adani's Jeyakumar Janakaraj. Shadow Mines MInister, Andrew Cripps says the government's support is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Discussions continue as Qld Govt agree to facilitate funding

Breaking: Owner's anger as prized Rocky racehorses left mutilated

The damage from a hit and run incident involving trainer Laurie Clem and his horses.

Rocky racehorses worth big dollars left for dead on roadside

Local Partners

WATCH: Judah battles his emotions as he makes Top 12

Judah Kelly has made it through to the top 12 of Australia's The Voice competition.

Karl Stefanovic's rant about Schapelle Corby 'a bit rich'

Karl Stefanovic is sick of hearing about Schapelle Corby.

Maybe he just wanted to make himself the story.

Could Schapelle be heading for Gladstone?

Australian Schapelle Corby is escorted by Bali Police at the parole office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, 27 May 2017.

Schapelle's mother teases her free daughter could be Gladstone bound

Six things you never knew about Men in Black

Mushu the pug

It's been 20 years since Men in Black first hit cinemas

10 strange stories behind famous sex scenes

Khaleesi and Khal Drogo in a steamy moment.

Every set has their own way of filming sex scenes

HBO spills new details on Game of Thrones’ final season

Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season will only have six episodes.

New details about what to expect from the eighth, final instalment.

Karl’s rant on Corby: ‘Made to look like idiots’

Karl Stefanovic is sick of hearing about Schapelle Corby.

Today co-host launched a tirade against Schapelle Corby media circus

New $46.7m counter-terrorism facility to be built in Wacol

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, pictured with Police Commisioner Ian Stewart, has announced plans to build a new counter-terrorism facility in Wacol.

The facility will be built over three years.

Home to a sex worker: Sordid history of iconic Coast shed

Milojevic Djordjevic's daughter Linda at the derelict shed on Yandina-Coolum Road.

The shed was once a liveable 'barrack'.

This is real estate's billion-dollar man

Bob Wolff at AREC with John McGrath of McGrath Real Estate.

They don’t call him the “Billion dollar man” for nothing

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

Deluge brings massive price rise for property near Rocky

BIG BUY: The Howard family handed over Yaamba's historic Balmoral property to the Harvey family on Thursday.

DOWNPOUR'S perfect timing entices buyer to pay huge dollars.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!