RPMGlobal (RPM) has released another industry first with their new Gas Drainage Scheduling functionality inside their XPAC Underground Coal Solution (UGCS). This functionality has been developed with some of Australia’s largest underground coal miners.

For many coal mining organisations, understanding the impact of gas drainage activities on production can be an extremely challenging task. Until now, there were no software solutions dedicated to this specific task. Engineers were forced to rely on spreadsheets to understand when the drainage of each gateroad was completed and therefore the associated impacts on the critical development required for the next longwall move.

According to David Batkin, RPM’s Head of Product Strategy, because of the disparate systems, it has been hard to consider gas drainage at the same time as the mine’s production schedule. “The gas drainage functionality of UGCS provides a step-change in scheduling gassy underground coal mines. The solution tightly integrates the drainage activities into both the mine design and the scheduling processes. It makes gas drainage a key consideration every time the schedule is updated.”

The solution allows the user to directly include factors that influence drainage times – like gas content and permeability – into the in situ model. When users design a series of longwall panels, gas drainage stubs can be inserted automatically, along with the associated patterns that will be drilled from them. These drill pattern envelopes adjust dynamically based on the longwall dimensions and gateroad properties, but users are also free to refine everything in the model. The rigs used to perform the gas drainage drilling are treated as independent resources and are scheduled in the same way as continuous miners and longwalls. Rules govern when the drill sites become available and once they have been drilled, the schedule starts tracking drainage status as soon as each pattern has been drilled.

Mitigation strategies for gas drainage challenges are typically required several years in advance if they are to be effective. A range of tools have been provided to analyse these challenges and communicate when they need to be implemented. Animations highlight the status of drill sites, so it’s clear when they are available for drilling, when they are drilled and when they are being drained. The drainage status of all development is also displayed, and warnings are generated automatically whenever mining is impacted by incomplete drainage.

Batkin stated the solution has been designed to make it as practical as possible for mines with gas drainage challenges. “This solution has been produced in collaboration with underground miners who face these challenges day in and day out. They have helped us take a very practical approach to the problem.” He went on to say, “our current partners have provided extremely positive feedback that confirms UGCS directly addresses the gas drainage challenges they routinely face. We are excited to have worked with them to provide a solution of this calibre.”

This gas drainage module will be available in the next release of the Underground Coal Solution. For more information on upgrades and gas drainage functionality, contact the RPM support team or an RPM Customer Success representative.

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