Underground coal

Underground operations require strict planning and tight operating disciplines to avoid becoming a critical bottleneck.

Running an underground coal mine can be very challenging as many of the key processes are in series, and all need to be aligned with each other and operating at the target rate to get the tonnages out. Development carried out by a continuous miner is often the bottleneck of a longwall mine – but at Partners in Performance, we have found a clear way to drive performance based on input behavioural Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Our focus is on what needs to get done, not on tonnage, as we find cutting coal is the easy part. The hard part is getting all the activities away from the face completed on time and to schedule. By developing a simple schedule with tools we help the Supervisors proactively manage the work.

Typical improvement approaches in operations:

  • Develop performance management system around key tasks (development, outbye and surface support, longwall)
  • Problem-solving to attack root causes, rather than symptoms, using tools such as:
    •  Five Whys analysis for crews
    •  Value Driver Trees for Senior Managers
  • Ensure the Management Operating System (from the mine plan down to shift plans) is accurate, up to date and specific
  • Coach extensively in active supervision and short-interval control
  •  Improve longwall change-out times.

Example: Operations improvement

Our client, a major underground coal mine faced worsening water issues and declining tonnages. We applied our SPIN methodology to double the availability of pumps. In parallel, we helped the operating teams to focus on cutting tempo and continuous miner uptime. As a result, our client achieved a 35% improvement in tonnage over six months.

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