Moranbah North’s processing success comes to fore

Moranbah North CHPP manager Derek Wilson (L) with Rockwell Automation managing director – Australia, New Zealand, Scott Wooldridge.

Anglo American’s Moranbah North metallurgical coal mine in the Bowen Basin region in Queensland is noted for the unique setup of its processing plant.

The mine’s coal handling preparation plant (CHPP) has four operating circuits complete with secondary and tertiary flotation, enabling the system to maintain operational efficiency across a wide range of feed sizes.

The Moranbah North team added variable speed drives to its longwall armoured face conveyor, removing workers from hazardous areas while also improving efficiencies.

The company also introduced a tablet for underground communication capable of providing live Skype communication to cutting faces and direct access to paramedics and the safety health management system.

In recognition of Moranbah North’s productivity and efficiency upgrades, the mine received the Rockwell Automation Minerals Processing of the Year Award at the 2018 Australian Mining Prospect Awards in Sydney.

So what makes Moranbah North’s processing so impressive? An average of 155 hours per week has been achieved at the plant in 2018 by optimising planned maintenance regimes and identifying the causes of unplanned downtime.

The Moranbah North team developed an in-house condition monitoring program to reduce downtime while maximising throughput by using short interval control (SIC) optimisation.

SIC implements operational reviews, integrated planning and other techniques that help mine workers and managers identify and rectify production issues in an expedited manner.

Operators at Moranbah North check the status of operations next to plans by using smartphones, tablets and other digital devices and optimise performance accordingly to meet or exceed targets. In other words, it helps to eliminate bottlenecks.

Site staff also developed a custom application called iDO for short-term optimisation of plant feeds, stockpiling and product specifications. This has helped maximise revenue at the mine.

Moranbah North has achieved feed rates up to 25 per cent above nameplate capacity using these techniques. Anglo American delivered record results at Moranbah North in 2018 with production of more than 10 million tonnes (Mt), a doubling of its 12-month output five years earlier.

In the 2017 financial year, Moranbah North’s production rate was 5.4Mt. In Anglo American’s 2018 half year results, Moranbah North and Grosvenor contributed to a metallurgical coal increase of 17 per cent year on year from 9.2Mt in July 2017 to 10.8Mt in July 2018.

“Our processing plant has gone from strength to strength to accommodate metallurgical coal from both our Moranbah North and Grosvenor mines,” Anglo American general manager, Moranbah North, Paul Stephan says.

“It has continued to successfully process metallurgical coal, which reflects the commitment of the CHPP team and the operational and maintenance teams who continue to collaborate to achieve nameplate capacity of the plant.”

Moranbah North, an underground longwall mine, began production in 1998 and struggled throughout its first decade.

In January 2012, the site saw a large turnaround when it went through a restructure in order to work towards improved longwall rates and increased production.

This also improved site safety; by 2015, Moranbah North had gone eight years without a lost time injury (LTI) at the CHPP and five years without an LTI at the site’s warehouse.

The plant was upgraded in 2015 to allow for the processing of product from two separate run-of-mine coal sources, Moranbah North and Grosvenor. This move upgraded the operation’s nameplate capacity to 14.4 million tonnes a year (Mt/y).

However, the mine has demonstrated capacity of up to 18Mt/y.

It was one of two awards won by the company during the evening, the other being the SEW Eurodrive Coal Mine of the Year Award, also for Moranbah North.

Anglo American is a previous winner in both of these categories; Moranbah North previously won Coal Mine of the Year on three other occasions and Minerals Processing of the Year in 2013. Moranbah North also won the award for Australian Mine of the Year at the 2017 Prospect Awards.

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