Anglo American’s team at Grosvenor mine is celebrating after its tunnel boring machine broke through rock 29 days ahead of schedule to complete the people and equipment drift.
The entrance of the TBM, dubbed ‘Lucia’, broke through just after midnight on February 10, 160 metres below ground.
Lucia’s breakthrough came 29 days ahead of schedule with the team able to rein in the construction timeframe using the knowledge gained from work on the conveyor drift, which was tunnelled last year.
Grosvenor Underground Construction Manager Adam Foulstone said the team collaborated effectively with the contractor and the key to the increase in productivity came from lessons learned during the conveyor drift construction.
“From an industry perspective we have achieved the highest levels of collaboration and production through tunnelling, which provided a safer environment than conventional tunnelling methods,” Foulstone said.
“On our best production day we installed 18 concrete rings to support the tunnel, so about 25 metres, and our best week was 78 rings, or 110 metres.”
The milestone was celebrated by members of the Grosvenor team and tunnelling contractor Red Path when ‘Lucia’ broke through.
Coal CEO Seamus French congratulated the team for their outstanding efforts to drive the TBM through the second drift significantly ahead of schedule.
"This great result is down to the outstanding commitment of the team who came to grips with the new tunnel boring technology last year and applied our operating and engineering experience from underground mining to lift the TBM performance over the last 12 months,” Seamus said.
"The use of this technology is a first not just for coal mining in Anglo American but for the Australian coal mining industry and the team can rightly feel proud that they are the pioneers of this new technology in coal.”
The work is part of Anglo’s $1.95 billion longwall project at Grosvenor which is nearing the two year mark and on track to begin longwall mining in 2016.
Once in full production, the greenfield mine will produce up to seven million tonnes of coal per annum.