Futuristic Mining Machine Makes Hard Work Look Easy

The Caterpillar Longwall System is at the cutting edge of mining technology.
Jessica Miley

The days of mining with a pick and shovel are long behind us, and the future is definitely high tech. This animated video from Caterpillar Global Mining shows off a Complete Cat® Longwall System.

A custom system was recently ordered by Australia mining company Peabody for its premium coking coal mine in North Goonyella, Queensland.

The mine already uses a Cat Longwall System but is upgrading to take advantage of the technological improvements in the system as well as to reduce the dust exposure to the systems operators.

The Longwall system features include hydraulic roof supports, high-horsepower shearers, automated plow systems, and face conveyors - controlled and supported by intelligent automation.

The high horsepower shearers agitate the tunnel wall, the deposits fall onto a conveyor belt that moves the material out of the mine passed a smart delivery system.

The angle and power of the shears are all controllable. The system has built-in smart software that maps the surface of the wall allowing mine operators to work with precision.

Use of the Cat Longwall system reportedly allows for improved use of manpower, a reduction in coal dilution and an increase in hauling speeds.

It's also designed to require less maintenance; a massive problem in achieving mining production levels. The new Caterpillar Longwall has corrosion protection features such as special coatings and the increased use of highly corrosion resistant materials. 

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