Jeremy David U'Brien

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis (University Course)


With much of the easy surface coal deposits beginning to draw to a close, the future of coal mining lies in the development of safe and efficient underground operations. The focus will of course be with the use of Longwall production techniques. This in turn requires faster roadway development rates. Increasing community and regulatory safety standards as well as improved retreat rates for Longwalls have put the spotlight and an expectation on roadway development becoming more efficient though the use of automation technology. The huge cost of Longwalls has meant a substantial focus from private industry and government agencies to grow the performance and safety of this form of coal mining method. Until now, this has diverted attention somewhat from the machines that develop the roadways that are the arteries of the mine and provide the material and ventilation routes for the Longwalls to perform at such peak levels. As the better underground locations are mined, the more difficult areas must fill their place. This means deeper mines with more faulting and more hazardous strata conditions will be encountered. As this occurs, requirements for strata support become more integral to the function of roadway development. This thesis investigates what is currently the State of the Art in Bolting Technology with the view to the future of undergound coal mining ground support practices. It has long been considered that a fast, efficient and safe way to develop roadways is to remove the operator from the face area and automate the process. This thesis looks at current and emerging bolting technology from the underground coal industry, hard rock mining and construction industries to pool together in one place the technologies that may lead to a future advance for the industry. Many of the technologies appear promising but progress on the development front is slow and tedious. Human operators perform many functions that take judgment and skill in a constantly changing and tough environment. Ground profile changes, acid water and a methane gas atmosphere add to the complexities of adapting industrial technology to raise roof bolting automation and technology. Safety is a strong driver also for the technology but getting past the economics is a challenge that the bolting automation advocates will find difficult. Current consumables allow a high level of automation but the cost of those consumables seems disproportionately high. Economic factors are considered later in this paper that show maximising the efficiency of the development process is not purely about the speed at which support can be erected. For many existing mines needing to increase their development rate will need to spend money in other areas to realise the benefit of faster support methods. This research should then act as a platform to showcase not only the latest in bolting technology but provide some food for thought for equipment manufacturers, such as Sandvik, as to how best to advance incrementally and be at the forefront while the consumable costs are reduced, and how safety cost estimations may be essential for marketing and funding the investment in technology.
Original languageEnglish
  • Moser, Peter, Supervisor (internal)
Award date28 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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