Underground soft rock mining Product and service

Coal Age: Automation advances with room-and-pillar mining

1 min read / September 6, 2023

Like most businesses today, underground coal operators are dealing with new challenges during this post-pandemic period. One of the major challenges facing almost all aspects of mining is finding, training, and retaining workers. Statistics published by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME), indicate that more than half the current mining workforce will retire and need to be replaced, creating an enormous skills and knowledge gap. This problem could become a lasting problem for coal operators if it isn’t already.

Speaking at the U.S. Coal Show, which took place during May in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, Toby Cressman, product manager for automation and data solutions for Komatsu Mining, discussed the variety of solutions the company is currently developing for room-and-pillar mining. These solutions could improve the performance of today’s operators and assist with training future miners and help hold down costs for mining companies.

Suggestions for improving productivity with room-and-pillar mining have always been somewhat subjective. Oftentimes, it’s obvious that there is room for improvement with some aspect, such as haulage routes and travel times, as well as operator behavior, but there are also a lot of moving parts that can create unexpected downtime.


*This article was written by Steve Fiscor for Coal Age. Read the rest here.