Continuous Mining Machines

Fitzgerald, C. W.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 18
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION Continuous mining machines are used in regular flat ore beds having uniform thickness. Since coal is the most common type of material occurring in such beds, most continuous miners are used for the extraction of coal from underground mines. The first continuous mining machine for under¬ground coal mining was introduced in 1948. In one machine, the continuous miner combines the functions performed by a conventional face drill, a cutting ma¬chine, and a loading machine. It breaks or digs the material out of the surrounding solid and transfers the material back through the machine chassis by means of a chain conveyor. The conveyor carries the material to a haulage system, usually a rubber-tired vehicle known as a shuttle car. Generally, continuous miners are used in seam heights from 890 to 3660 mm (35 to 144 in.). For seam heights of 1070 mm (42 in.) or less, the haulage system may be a multiple-bridge conveyor or battery-powered tractors that haul low-bed trailers. Proj¬ects are being undertaken by private industry and through government contracts to develop a continuous haulage system for all seam heights. As of 1976, the majority of continuous miners were of two types. The first type is the drum miner, which mounts the cutting elements on a series of drums across the cutting head of the machine, sometimes using a cutting chain to cut clearance for the gear drive. In the drum-type machines, the cutting head rotates parallel to the material face. The second type is the auger miner, which utilizes cutting elements mounted on two auger-type cutting heads. One head is located on each side of the machine, with the heads mounted per¬pendicular to the material face. Chain-head ripper-type miners/miners having rotary cutting elements with oscillating motion and twin-head boring-type miners have all been popular within the last 15 years. Although these are considered obsolete, some machines are still being supplied for specialized applications. GENERAL DESCRIPTION This chapter describes only continuous mining ma¬chines available as manufacturers' production models as of September 1976. Figs. 1 through 11 illustrate some typical machines currently in use. Cutting Elements The cutting elements are the interface between the machine and the material being mined. In describing the cutting elements, consideration must be given to the differences between the drum- and auger-type machines, the bit-tip speeds, and the bit types. Drum-Type Continuous Mining Machines: Three of the four principal manufacturers of drum-type miners use multi-motor designs that provide separate a-c motors for driving the cutting elements. Gear trains are used to reduce the speeds of the motors to the rotational speeds of the cutting elements. One of the three suppliers drives the cutting elements of its low-seam models with a heavy-duty drive chain that is equipped with cutting bits; all other functions of this machine have separate motor drives that are either electrical or hydraulic. The fourth principal manufacturer generally provides two a-c electric motors, utilizing gear reducers, drive shafts, and hydraulically operated engaging clutches to power all of the operating functions, including the cut¬ting elements. Some drum-type miners use trim chains, equipped with cutting bits, to cut clearance for the gear drives. These trim chains vary from two 305-mm (12-in.) chains to one 760-mm (30-in.) chain per machine, de¬pending upon the manufacturer's design concept. In all machines other than the low-seam models that use chains to drive the heads, the trim chains are driven by sprockets on the drive shaft of the final cutterhead drum; therefore, the trim chains are not used for power trans¬mission to the cutting elements. In addition to cutting clearance for the gear drives, the trim chains provide uniform bit spacing all the way across the head and assist in moving the cut material to an area where it is either loaded directly into the miner's conveyor or is easier to load into the conveyor. On a drum-type mining machine, the cutting ele¬ments all rotate from the top to the bottom. Therefore, the recommended procedure is to raise the cutterhead to the maximum seam height, sump the entire machine forward to maximum depth by means of a crawler drive, and then shear downward until the cutter elements reach the floor level. The maximum sump depth varies ac¬cording to the drum diameter, the type of material, the floor conditions, and the operator's abilities. It normally varies an average of 460 to 760 mm (18 to 30 in.). Cutter drums are supplied with two types of cutting bit holders. Weld-on holders are attached permanently. Pin-on holders are replaceable at the face. Cutter-drum diameters over the bit tips vary from 660 to 965 mm (26 to 38 in.), depending upon the chassis height of the machine and the range of cutting heights. Auger-Type Continuous Mining Machines: As cut-
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