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US equipment manufacturer Caterpillar has launched the Cat GH800B longwall plow system to enable mining very low coal seams at high rates.

The latest product is based on the firm’s GH1600 plow system model.

Caterpillar’s longwall team in Lünen, Germany, co-ordinated with German Ibbenbüren mine to develop the new plow, which can help to mine anthracite seams with thickness of around 0.85m (33.5in).

The Cat GH800B longwall plow was introduced at the Ibbenbüren mine in the fourth quarter of 2013, where coal is no more than 1m in height.

In addition to offering increased production capacity, the system has been found to lower operating and maintenance costs by almost 50%, compared with a nearby coal face, the company claimed.

"The system has been found to lower operating and maintenance costs by almost 50%, compared with a nearby coal face."

Cat GH800B has been designed for cutting heights ranging from around 1.55m to 0.75m. It is equipped with armoured face conveyor (AFC) modifications such as PF4 plow line pans with replaceable a top trough, and a new plow guide made from a one-piece casting for added strength and durability.

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The system has external dogbone connectors between line pans and a flexible yet sturdy relay bar between the AFC and the roof, which makes it ideal for low seam operations, Caterpillar added.

Caterpillar added that the system has been designed so that the ends of the plow body help load more coal onto the face conveyor and reduce the power required for cutting. It is also equipped with a canopy water spray sequence to lower dust levels.

The innovative plow system will now be used in five consecutive longwall panels of the Ibbenbüren mine, Cat informed.

Image: Cat GH800B has been designed for cutting heights of 1.55m to 0.75m. Photo: courtesy of Caterpillar.