Technology key for coal industry growth

Sep 5, 2017 | coal mining

Technology key for coal industry growth

Technology is key for the coal industry to meet challenges presented by evolving global energy requirements and changing public perception, according to Centennial Coal CEO Mick Cairney.

Speaking at an Austmine Smart Mining Networking Event in Newcastle, he said coal companies needed to adapt to change in order to enhance mining practices, increase productivity, provide cleaner coal and compete with other energy providers.

If companies failed to embrace innovation and continued to do things the way they had done previously, he said they would be left behind.

Centennial has a long history of producing coal in New South Wales (NSW) and like most other coal suppliers struggled through the downturn. Mick Cairney said the company had emerged from difficult times in a strong position as part of the large Asian diversified energy company Banpu.

“We have enhanced our underground operations through the use of longwall and real time data analysis technologies, which have also resulted in safer workplaces.”

The company’s Springvale mine has a fully automated longwall and the guidance technology has resulted in extremely accurate mining. This technology is evolving to successfully mine narrower seams, which may be applicable in the company’s other operations.

Up to 60% of machines involved in cutting, haulage and feeder operations across its mines are on real time monitoring, generating instant reports, allowing shift supervisors to make quick, informed decisions.

Mick Cairney said, “We will continue to consider and evaluate technology developed through our own R&D, within the Banpu network and from outside METS providers but it is not about reinventing the wheel, it is about us doing what we do in a better way.”

coal industryTechenomics CEO Chris Adsett attended the event and was impressed by Mick Cairney’s practical approach to Centennial’s growth and use of technology.

Techenomics supports the coal industry through its fluid management solutions and utilises technology with a focus on developing digital data capabilities.

Chris Adsett says this will create better predictive models, enabling Techenomics to gain greater understanding of the operating characteristics of engines and equipment.


Mick Cairney is well-placed to drive Centennial’s change process as he has an operational background.

Centennial is the largest independent coal producer in NSW, with five operating coal mines and more than 1500 employees. It annually produces around 16 million tonnes, which is equivalent to pre-downturn production from 11 mines, and plans to increase output to 20 million tonnes by the early 2020s.

Centennial is securing its future through organic growth at existing operations and is also considering open pit options. It fuels around 40% of the coal-fired electricity supplied in NSW and has a strong export focus with about 40% of production into the export market. Major customers include power stations and steel mills in Taiwan, Japan and Korea.

Mick Cairney said Centennial was passionate about its partnerships. The company has 144 contracts with more than 2000 suppliers, most of which are based near the areas of operation.

“We have strong supplier relationships and are happy to consider new supplier deals that add value. Our suppliers work with us on developing new technology, ranging from proximity detection, auto-bolters and remote power supply created by conveyor rollers,” he said.

For more information about Techenomics contact: Chris Adsett,; in Indonesia Teguh,; in Singapore Siti,; in Mongolia Sugraa,; or in Australia Leo Valenz,

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