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AUSTRALIAN LONGWALL COAL MINE

Longwall miner boosts CHPP operational time by 33% 

The Challenge

Globally, longwall mines are challenged to reach their nameplate production rate. This is largely due to a focus on equipment efficiency rather than systemwide throughput. Over the past two decades, the growth in capacity of longwall equipment has shifted the bottleneck away from the mining face to the Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) and/or Development.

This shift often goes unnoticed because traditional operational strategies prioritise maximal equipment efficiency. Ironically, this leads to inefficiencies in overall flow, characterised by stop-start flow and effective output well below system capability.

 

Our client, a leading longwall mine in Australia, faced this prevalent issue, mirroring the broader industry challenge. The situation called for a strategic overhaul rather than conventional efficiency-focused approaches.

LOCATION

Australia

MINE TYPE

Longwall Coal Mine

CHPP OPERATIONAL TIME INCREASE PHASE 1 (no Capex)

33%

CHPP OPERATIONAL RATE INCREASE PHASE 2 (2-month payback Capex being implemented)

21%

INDICATIVE SALES INCREASE 

+$61 million p.a./ each $100 million in budgeted sales. (baseline using prior operating capability, holding yield and price constant. This includes phases 1 and 2). Most of the increased sales, with the exception of Truly Variable Cost will flow to the bottom line. 

The Stratflow Productivity Platform

Intervention Strategy:

We at Stratflow introduced the Productivity Platform, akin to choosing minimally invasive keyhole surgery over more drastic measures. This platform enhances overall system productivity through refined operational flow and decision-making processes. Since the CHPP is the most expensive part of longwall operations to add capacity, we chose this as the bottleneck.

Implementation and Results:

The implementation in 2023 led to a transformative 33% increase in operational time for the CHPP. This performance required no Capex and delivered more than profit; it also uplifted operational culture:

  • Employee Engagement: There was a noticeable increase in workforce engagement and decision-making quality.

  • Operational Maturity: Employees exhibited greater maturity, managing operations with foresight and agility.

  • Superflow Achievement: The concept of 'Superflow in a spirit of calmness' was realised, characterised by smooth, efficient, and predictable operations. This calm operational state not only enhances productivity but also employee satisfaction and empowerment.

Sustained Production and Proactive Management:

Post-intervention, the CHPP operations not only increased in throughput but also achieved remarkable stability. This stability allows for predictable monthly production metrics and proactive problem management, fostering a proactive rather than reactive operational culture.

 

Strategic Capital Expenditure (CapEx) Justification:

The success of the initial intervention provided robust justification for further CapEx investment focused on alleviating identified bottlenecks. The expected payback period was remarkably short, projected at 2 months, with an additional 21% per year increase in CHPP operation rate projected for future years.

Indicative Benefit

As an example, if price and yield remain constant, and budgeted sales revenue for next year is projected at $100M, this would offer a combined 61% increase in revenue, or $61M, most of which (except for Truly Variable Cost) will flow to the bottom line.

Conclusion

The strategic shift facilitated by the Stratflow Productivity Platform has set a new industry standard. It demonstrates that focusing on systemic throughput rather than isolated efficiency can lead to substantial gains in both productivity and operational harmony. This case serves as a benchmark for similar operations facing throughput challenges, proving that thoughtful interventions can yield significant and sustainable benefits.
Contact Stratflow to discuss how we can help solve your challenges and improve your bottom-line results.
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