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New Technology & Future Prospects By P. K. Roychowdhury, Dir. Tech.(Op), South Eastern Coalfields Ltd

Economy used to be the principal parameter, influencing industrial health. Production & Productivity are the key parameters for any kind of Industrial Growth. Coal Industry is not an exception from this. Coal is the prime source of energy of the country. During last 20 years, Indian Coal Industry has undergone radical reformation with Mining Technology, Production & Productivity, Quality, Safety, Environment, Human Resource Management etc. New under ground technologies have been introduced for higher out put with lower in puts. In this context SECL is associated with experiencing and preparing for introduction of many technologies, both in under ground and open cast mining.

South Eastern Coal Fields Limited ( SECL ), a leading subsidiary of Coal India Limited and a  ‘MINI RATNA’ Company is the single largest coal producing company in India. It operates in the states of Chhattishgarh and Madhya Pradesh with its 91 nos. of mining units including under ground and open cast mines.

Nationalisation of Indian Coal Industry has brought many continuous changes in the mines in terms of Technological evolution. So there has become a substantial growth in coal production in the Indian Coal Industry. There has been a continuous increment in coal production from open cast coal mines. But a negative trend is observed with coal production from under ground mines, despite several mechanizations.

Demand of coal warrants huge quantum of coal production, which necessitates proper mechanized operational management. Provisional Coal production projection of SECL for next five years shows a steep slope as under.



SO as a continuous effort SECL has an evolutionary trend to introduce and practice different new technologies, for higher production and productivity as discussed under.


A. Bord & Pillar working with SDL / LHDs

This was the first stage of  mechanization, eliminating Manual Loader Mining from under grounds of SECL. SDLs / LHDs were first introduced in SECL mines in the year 1977 – 78. SECL is having the highest population of SDLs / LHDs amongst all of the subsidiaries of Coal India Limited. At  present this is the most practiced and popular most method of mechanization in SECL. There has been a continuous improvement in production and productivity of SDLs / LHDs. This kind of mechanization has not only increased under ground production and productivity, but also accident rates have also come down with respect to manual mining.

B. Cable Bolting – Remote LHD Combination

This method is very useful for extraction of thick seams. In SECL, this is being practiced at Chirimiri Area, where thickness up to 7m is being extracted successfully in conjunction with Remote Controlled SDL. Basically this method is Rib Slice pillar of extraction and supporting of high roof is being ensured by hanging cable bolt in the goaf.

C. Long Wall Mining

Powered Support Long Wall mining was the pioneer methodology for a radical growth in under ground productivity at SECL. SECL has started its first Long Wall face in the year 1990 at Churcha Colliery. Though it was not successful at Churcha due to Geo-Mining reasons, however aftermath, Long Wall Mining has been successfully practiced in three other mines of SECL.

D. Partial Extraction methods of Mining

SECL has been practicing different methods of Partial Extraction in different mines, protecting surface features, since decades back. The methodologies in practice at SECL are,
Wide & Stall Method
Limited Span Mining
Yield Pillar Technique
Chess Board Method
Non Effective Width method
Stable Pillar / Remnant formations as final operations ( the youngest applications)
Practicing these partial extraction methods have added many advantages to the Economy of Indian Coal Industry with ample conservation perspectives.

E. Mass Production Technology

Mass Production Technology (MPT)with Continuous Miner, Shuttle Car & Quad Bolter combination was first introduced in Anjan Hill Mines of Chirimiri Area in the year 2002, in collaboration with Joy Mining, UK. Then after the technology was migrated to few more mines of SECL. At present Continuous Miners with Quad Bolters / Twin Bolters are working in NCPH, Kurja – Seetaldhara and Pinoura underground mines. MPT at Pinoura underground are even modern with diesel operated equipment.  Mass Production Technology with Continuous Miner has become a break through for remote mining for the face operations and with high under ground productivity. This technology has started a new era of profitability and productivity and became very popular method of mining due to its versatility and simplicity. This has lead SECL to plan more nos. of Continuous Miner Faces and in near future few more nos. of Continuous Miners will be added in the fleet of SECL.


F. Shortwall Mining

This methodology envisages the extraction of standing on pillars (formed due to Bord & Pillar development) with the help of Self Walking Powered Supports and Shearer as that if a PSLW retreat face. But the gallery openings are suitably supported in advance of extraction to attain adequate support resistance to restrict movement of Abutment Loading with in working areas.

Shortwall mining is successfully going on at Balrampur UG Mine of Bisrampur Area, for the first of its kind in the country. This technology has prospected Indian Coal Industry with a great solution for faster liquidation of long Standing Pillars in Bord & Pillar workings. Introduction of Shortwall Mining at SECL is started with high under ground productivity of about 8 Te / Man shift.

G. Low Capacity Continuous Miner (LCCM)    

Encouraged with the performances of Continuous Miner (LCCM) in moderate thick seams, SECL has introduced Low Capacity Continuous Miner in its thin seams of Rani Atari UG Mine. This is the first LCCM of the country  adding new productivity with thin seam mining.

H. Blasting Gallery (BG) method of mining

Blasting Gallery (BG) method of mining is aimed at faster liquidation of thick seams with high economy and safety due to remote operations. BG operation was started at Anjan Hill Mine of Chirimiri Area.

I. High Wall Mining

This method is practiced when both open cast and under ground mining is not possible due to technical and sociological issues. This technology envisages extraction of coal with remote mining and protecting surface feature. This is a big solution for mining under very difficult situations. SECL has introduced Country’s first High Wall Mining at Sharda Open Cast Mine of Sohagpur Area and continuing with encouraging results.

J. Resin Bolting

Started with Continuous Miner and getting spread to other methods of under ground mining, SECL is practicing roof bolting with high capacity resin capsules for higher load bearing capacity of about 25 Te / bolt in place of about 6-8 Te / bolt of conventional practice. This practice not only enhanced safety, but also increased productivity with its higher capacity and faster installation rate.

K. Resin Bolting as breaker line support at Goaf Edges

Roof bolts are used for systematic supports in and around working area as well as in the breaker lines at the goaf edges during the depillaring with Continuous Miner. At the goaf edge, three rows of roof bolts are installed as breaker lines. Among these three rows of bolts, maximum 26 tones of load was recorded over the row of bolts facing goaf of the panel while the rows of bolts toward the active mining side maximum load of 5 tones only was observed, On the basis of these observations of the instrumented bolts it is safely concluded that the application of roof bolts, as breaker line support is a successful exercise for the purpose.

L. Mechanised face & Roof Drilling

Mechanised face and roof drilling, such as using UDMs, Quad Bolter, Twin Bolters, Hydraulic Drills etc., is practiced, eliminating hazard of roof failure to the face workers in the under ground mines.

M. Induced Caving

For better hard roof management, Induced Caving ( Blasting either from surface or under ground ) is being practiced at Long Wall, Shortwall and also with other mining  methods in many mines of SECL. Induced Caving remained one of the key practices for success of Long Wall and Shortwall mining at present.

N. Gas Chromatograph

SECL has installed one Gas Chromatograph in the centrally located Manendragarh Rescue Station. It is procured from SIMTARS, Australia, using software like ‘Segas’, ‘Safegas’ & ‘EzGas’  for early detection and control of mine fires. This equipment detects the presence of many gases with high precision in the sample including Hydrogen, Acetylene and CO which are the prime indicators of fire in the mine. Gas Chromatograph with Segas professional software allows the sampling results to be analysed through Coward Triangle, Ellicot Diagram, Ellicot Trend, Time Graph and Time Series so as to apprehend uneventualities regarding mine fire well in advance.

O. Strata Control Monitoring

Modern techniques of Strata Control Monitoring with instrumentation is being practiced in the under ground mines to monitor the efficacy of the support system, stability of workings and anticipating roof failures in a probabilistic and futuristic approach, saving precious lives and equipment. Strata Control Cells are effectively in operation at different levels of the organization starting from the mine level to corporate level.


A. Surface Miners

SECL has also introduced Eco-friendly open cast mining with Surface Miners at Gevra, Dipka, Kusmunda & Raigarh Area with grand success.

B. High Capacity HEMMs

High capacity HEMMs such as 42 Cu.m bucket Shovels and 240 Tonne Dumpers are introduced in the open cast mining of SECL reducing equipment population at working places with subsequent increase in safety standards.

C. High Luminous Tower Lights

High Luminous Tower Lights are introduced in open cast mining and surface operations in mining improving workability conditions and standard of safety.

Improvised hydraulic goaf edge support which can be remotely handled for Bord and Pillar method of work.
Mobile hydraulic powered support as an advance support for Short wall method of mining.
Stout Hydraulic props  for freshly exposed roof, which should not be dislodged during blasting.
Introducing more nos. of Man-riding system in the mines with long traveling distance, reducing workmen fatigue and subsequent higher safety and productivity.
Introducing digital tele-monitoring system in underground mining to prevent mine fires.
Introducing digital float alarm system in underground mining to prevent mine inundations.
Digitisation of mine plans for high degree of mine surveying preventing mine disasters.
Online roof behavior monitoring through modern Strata Control approach with Instrumentation.
Incorporation of safety into the Integrated Network Application and LAN with internet / intranet facility landing with mass, accurate fast MIS.
In house development of testing facilities of international standards.
Digital communication and tracking system in under ground.
Training with simulations for better HRM.
Developing Dump stability investigative techniques in Open cast Mines.
Digital monitoring surface and under ground mine fires.


Energy, the basic requirement of the country, remains largely dependant on coal. Indian Coal Mining Industry is to go a long way to fulfill the ambitious plan for coal production in the days to come to meet up the energy security of the country. Coal is to continue in the center stage so far as major fuel at an affordable price in the country at least for few decades. Hence Modern mechanization of mines, Development of mechanization culture and strategic success out comes are the yard sticks of future Indian Coal Industry.  SECL is on its best efforts for rational growth of technological options for a better future of Indian Coal Industry.

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   RNI No. WBENG/2008/27737
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