Mt Pleasant Drilling
Mt Pleasant Drilling

Coal Mine on the Leading Edge of Drilling Autonomy

Learn more about how a Cat customer is using their site as a proving ground for autonomous drilling.

By Caterpillar | Posted October 30, 2022

Mount Pleasant coal mine is a complex coal deposit located in New South Wales, Australia, owned by MACH Energy. Characterized by high quality coals, a low-strip ratio and high-processing yield, Mount Pleasant contains some of the most attractive coal resources in the Hunter Valley.

A team of innovators from Caterpillar, Cat® dealer WesTrac and mine operator Thiess find the site attractive for another reason: It’s an ideal proving ground for drilling autonomy.

Leveraging Cat MineStar™ Command for drilling on a fleet of Cat MD6250 rotary drills, the three entities have found the greenfield site and its complex drilling conditions the perfect stage to explore autonomous operations.

“Thiess identified drilling autonomy as a good opportunity to add value to our projects,” said Ryhs Mawn, Thiess automation engineer. “We were looking to partner with someone who wanted to be on the leading edge in developing something new for the industry.”

A 24/7 operation, Mount Pleasant is set to become one of the premier thermal coal mines in Australia. The site hosts resources of 1.1 billion tonnes (1.2 billion tons) of coal and 667 million tonnes (735 million tons) of recoverable reserves. The operation is currently ramping up to its targeted production rate of 10.5 million tonnes (11.6 million tons) per year.

Meanwhile, MACH Energy is investigating a project to nearly double its productive capacity through a staged increase in extraction, handling and processing of run-of-mine (ROM) coal up to 21 million tonnes (23 million tons) per year.

“It’s exciting to be part of something that’s right on the forefront and have direct input into building a system that’s going to be used not just at Mount Pleasant but across the globe,” said Mawn.

Working together, Thiess, WesTrac and Caterpillar are adding value to the Mount Pleasant operation while setting the stage for the sustainable mine of the future.

In this video, Thiess and WesTrac representatives showcase autonomous drilling, discuss the breadth of Caterpillar’s other autonomous solutions, and share their enthusiasm about being on the leading edge of autonomous technology.

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Drilling autonomy at Mount Pleasant

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