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Improving Roadway Development in Underground Coal Mines


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Author G Lewis and G Gibson


Realising that current roadway development performance levels were unlikely
to sustain new generation high-capacity (15 Mt/a) longwall mines then being
planned, the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) established a
Roadway Development Task Group (RDTG) in 2005 to develop a research strategy
targeted at improving roadway development performance in Australian longwall

The initial phase of the project identified a
number of factors that differentiated best practice mines from others, and
proposed a multi-faceted research strategy encompassing both short- and
long-term research initiatives, including:

  • conducting regular benchmarking
    studies across the industry to identify factors contributing to improved
    performance and to monitor performance trends,

  • conducting regular industry
    roadway development operators’ workshops to facilitate the transfer of
    successful roadway development improvement initiatives throughout the industry
    and facilitate networking between development practitioners,

  • development of alternative skin reinforcement and containment measures that would eliminate the
    use of steel mesh and enable face support systems to be fully

  • development of automated bolting and mesh handling systems that
    would enable operators to be removed from the immediate face

  • development of a body of knowledge of industry roadway development

  • development of a web-based information management system to capture
    and transfer emerging developments in roadway development practice and

  • reviewing the Australian civil tunnelling and underground
    metalliferous mining sectors to identify practices and technologies that could
    potentially be utilised to improve roadway development performance,

  • developing a new generation
    high-capacity mining system capable of +10 metres per operating hour for 20 or
    more hours per day (CM2010).

The paper reports on the progress of the above initiatives and outlines
strategies to continue the pursuit for improved roadway development