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Application of discrete event simulation in

optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel width:
a case study

Angelina Anani, Kwame Awuah-Offei & Joseph Hirschi

To cite this article: Angelina Anani, Kwame Awuah-Offei & Joseph Hirschi (2016): Application
of discrete event simulation in optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel width: a case study,
Mining Technology, DOI: 10.1080/14749009.2016.1195035

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Published online: 20 Jun 2016.

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Download by: [Missouri S & T] Date: 21 June 2016, At: 12:33

Application of discrete event simulation in
optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel
width: a case study
Angelina Anani1*, Kwame Awuah-Offei2 and Joseph Hirschi3
A key design aspect of room-and-pillar coal mines is the panel width (or number of entries in a panel),
which affects unit mining costs and productivity. Traditional mine design approaches do not facilitate
optimisation of unit mining costs and productivity as a function of the panel width. Discrete event
simulation can be used to facilitate optimal panel width selection that minimises unit mining costs and
maximises productivity. The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of panel width on the cost
and productivity of a room-and-pillar operation using discrete event simulation. The mining system is
modelled as a discrete event model that estimates unit costs and productivity for a given panel width
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(number of entries). Data from a real-life mine is used to validate the model in Arena®. An optimal panel
width is recommended based on simulation results.
Keywords:  Discrete event simulation, Room-and-pillar mining, Panel width optimisation, Simulation analysis program, Monte Carlo simulation, Fleet
size optimisation, Coal mine, Productivity

Introduction The traditional approach for determining panel width focuses

primarily on ventilation requirements, haulage distances (fleet
Room-and-pillar (R&P) mining is one of the oldest self-­ requirements), geotechnical conditions and property boundaries
supported underground mining methods used for exploiting (Dunrud 1998; Zipf 2001; Loui and Sheorey 2002, Ghasemi
flat and tabular deposits such as coal. One of the main goals of and Shahriar, 2012). However, it is important that panel width
R&P mine design is to extract the maximum possible amount determination takes into account minimising operating costs,
of ore while maintaining the bearing rock’s strength and con- optimising cut sequences, and maximising overall productivity.
dition. Design parameters in R&P mining depend on several Panel dimensions are determined by the number of pil-
factors, including depth of mining, production recovery, sta- lars and rooms in the panel. Panel width is defined by the
bility of the hanging wall and coal strength (Farmer 1992). A number of entries (production and development) excavated
key aspect of R&P mine design is panel design. Panel design in the panel. Due to advances in geotechnical methods over
relies on pillar strength and dimensions within the panel, as the past few decades, varying designs with increasing panel
well as coal recovery and production requirements. widths have been implemented (Robson 1984; Cain 1999).
Paneling in R&P mining is done to divide the mine into Common strategies employed in R&P panel development
different areas for ventilation and other aspects of mine oper- include: (i) developing a base width (typically seven or more
ation. Barrier pillars are used to separate panels thus pre- entries) on advance in increments (measured in crosscuts) that
venting progressive collapse in case of pillar failure within a correspond with required belt and power moves, (ii) mining
panel. The number of barrier pillars needed to separate panels rooms on either side or both sides of the base width and (iii)
depends on the number of panels being planned. As panel recovering pillars on retreat, if that practice is allowed.
width increases, so does barrier pillar size. Panel dimensions Typically, the importance of panel design is emphasised
also affect the mining (cut) sequence with wider panels result- in retreat mining where entries and rooms are mined first and
ing in more complicated cut sequences and more tramming by then panel pillars are mined afterwards. Pillar recovery is
continuous miners (CMs), a necessary function during which common in metal mines where high grade ore cannot be left
coal is not produced. Consequently, panel width (number of behind. Even though panel recovery in coal mines is not prev-
entries) affects the overall cost and production recovery of an alent, recent advances in electric haulage units have spurred
operation. An efficient R&P mine design takes into account a move towards wider panels to take full advantage of their
the optimum panel width that maximises production and min- capabilities. However, the effect of wider panels on produc-
imises cost while ensuring bearing rock stability. tivity and unit operating costs has not been fully investigated.
Traditional design approaches do not facilitate optimisation
Mining and Nuclear Engineering, Missouri University of Science and of unit mining costs and productivity as a function of panel
Technology, Rolla, MO 65401, USA
Mining and Nuclear Engineering, Missouri University of Science and width (Zipf 2001; Loui and Sheorey 2002; Ghasemi and
Technology, Rolla, MO, USA Shahriar 2012). The objective of this study was to evaluate
Mining and Mineral Resources Engineering, Southern Illinois University, the impact of panel width (number of entries) on the cost and
Carbondale, IL, USA
productivity of R&P operations. The authors present R&P
*Corresponding author, email

© 2016 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and The AusIMM

Published by Taylor & Francis on behalf of the Institute and The AusIMM
Received 24 March 2015; accepted 24 May 2016
DOI 10.1080/14749009.2016.1195035 Mining Technology   2016 1
Anani et al.  Application of discrete event simulation in optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel width

panel width design as a possible dual objective optimisation of uncertainty on the performance indicator. Similarly, Petering
problem where we seek to maximise productivity and mini- (2009) investigated the optimal width of storage blocks in a
mise unit costs subject to all constraints. The approach is to terminal container and its effect on gross crane rate.
build a discrete event simulation (DES) model and use it to The advantage of DES lies in its ability to model complex
conduct experiments to estimate the productivity and unit systems with relative ease. DES allows for implementation of
costs at varying panel widths and operating conditions. As a new designs and methods without interfering with the real-life
case study, a coal mine is modelled as a DES using Arena® system. DES also helps answer the question of why certain
(Rockwell Automation Inc., Milwaukee, WI). phenomenon occur (Asplund and Jakobsson 2011). It has the
ability to capture random behaviour caused by a large number
of factors that impact the system, using the Monte-Carlo sim-
Discrete event simulation for panel ulation technique. This gives a sense of interactions between
width optimisation variables that make up such systems.
DES can be used to perform ‘bottleneck’ evaluations to
DES for engineering design
­discover where work in process in a system is delayed and
DES is a computer-based approach that facilitates modelling, which variables affect this. Identifying problems and gaining
simulation and analysis of the behaviour of complex systems understanding into the importance of these variables increases
as a sequence of discrete events. DES software has been con- awareness of their importance relative to the performance of the
tinuously improved for the past four decades leading to more overall system. DES allows an analyst to vary the system oper-
advanced simulation languages (Nance 1995; Pegden et al. ating periods, cheaply and easily (Schriber 1977). On the other
1995; Rice et al. 2005). Simulation languages are symbols/ hand, even though DES provides a way to analyse and under-
codes recognised by computers or computer programs as stand the changing behaviour of the system, it only provides an
issued commands a programmer wishes to perform (Kiviat estimate of the model output. Building DES models can be costly
1969). Common simulation languages currently used for DES and time consuming. Therefore, it is used on an as-needed basis
include SIMAN (system modelling), GPSS and SLAM. This where benefits outweigh costs (Asplund and Jakobsson 2011).
work uses Arena®, which is based on the SIMAN language
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This study seeks to apply DES to facilitate better panel width

for DES modelling and simulation. design. The general concept is presented in Section DES for
SIMAN is a SIMulation ANalysis program generally used to panel width design
model either discrete, continuous or a combination of discrete
and continuous systems (Pegden et al. 1995). SIMAN allows
process-oriented, event-oriented and continuous components DES for panel width design
to be integrated into a single system. A unique characteristic
of a SIMAN program is the distinct decomposition of model Ultimately, optimising a design parameter is an optimisation
and experimental frames. The static or dynamic nature of a sys- problem as described by Equation (1). The decision variable,
tem can be defined in the system model. Different experiments vector x, represents variables that affect the objective func-
can be done in the experimental framework resulting in mul- tion, f (x). Possible values that these variables can take make
tiple sets of output (McHaney 1991). However, the close link up the set of feasible solutions (alternative designs).
between its arithmetic and list processes on the one hand and minimise f (x)
its demand-resource concepts on the other restrict its capability (1)
subject to x ∈ Ω
to model demand-driven systems (Fishman 2001).
Applications of discrete event simulation as a In the case of panel width design, the objective function could
­decision-making tool for improve mining systems are vast reflect the desire to maximise mining recovery and produc-
and increasing (Doe and Griffin 1987; Sturgul and Harrison tivity as well as minimise unit operating costs. This work
1987; Harrison and Sturgul 1988; Basu and Baafi 1999; focuses on the dual objective of maximising productivity and
Vagenas 1999; Awuah-Offei et al. 2003; Michalakopoulos minimising unit costs. Decision variables can be panel width,
et al. 2005; Yuriy and Vayenas 2008; Ben-Awuah et al. cut sequences, the number of CMs and the number of haulage
2010). However, DES application in R&P mining is limited units assigned to each CM.
to a few examples (Hanson and Selim 1974; Pereira et al. If the objective function can be written mathematically
2010). None of them deal with using DES to determine (explicit) in terms of the decision variables and all constraints can
optimal design parameters. Hanson and Selim (1974) used be described similarly, there are many techniques to solve such
event based models to compare room and pillar mining optimisation problems. Often, however, the objective function is
with long wall mining systems. Pereira et al. (2010) used highly non-linear and implicit. In such cases, very few techniques
discrete event simulation to maximise the coal faces extrac- (simulation being one) can solve the problem (Kleijnen 1998).
tion from a given panel. It still remains that DES applica- In the case of panel width optimisation, productivity and
tion specifically in room and pillar mines is limited even unit costs associated with production functions of cutting,
more so in optimising design parameters. loading and hauling as a function of the panel width, equip-
DES can be used as a decision-making tool in determining ment fleet and cut sequence are non-linear and implicit. DES
optimum design parameters. Since DES can be used to simu- offers a means to estimate the unit cost and productivity for
late system performance at varying operating conditions and a given panel width, equipment fleet and cut sequence. The
design parameters, what-if analysis can be performed quickly approach taken in this work is to first build a valid DES model
and cheaply with a valid model. Through such experiments, of coal loading and hauling operations, then determine a feasi-
optimum design parameters can be determined that meet design ble set of decision variable values (panel widths, fleet and cut
goals and respect all constraints of the design problem. For sequences) and estimate all productivity values and unit costs
instance, to design a greenhouse crop system for maximum for these conditions using the model. The optimal solution
production and quality of labour, Van’t Ooster et al. (2013) suc- can then be selected on the basis of the objective function.
cessfully used DES to perform sensitivity analysis in identify- To find the optimal solution, one would have to determine
ing parameters that influence labour performance and the effect the relative significance of productivity and unit cost to the

2 Mining Technology   2016

Anani et al.  Application of discrete event simulation in optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel width

Case study
A case study of an actual coal mine is presented in this section
to illustrate the approach discussed in Section DES for panel
width design. The discussion here follows the general steps
of a typical simulation study (Kelton et al. 2003).

Problem formulation
The objective of the panel width optimisation study is to eval-
uate the impact of panel width on the unit cost and produc-
tivity of an underground R&P operation. A DES model with
variables that characterise the mining system was built using
1 Haulage unit dumping time Arena®. The model predicts unit mining costs and produc-
tivity at different panel widths. The DES model was validated
with shift production data obtained from a R&P coal mine
in southern Illinois, United States of America (USA). The
defined performance metric was that the relevant simulated
output should be within 15% of actual values from the mine.

System and simulation specifications

The mine used for this study is located in southern Illinois,
USA. The mine produces approximately 7  million tons of
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coal per year from the Herrin No. 6 seam using R&P mining
methods with a panel recovery rate of 54%. Eight Joy Model
14CM27 CMs (two for each panel) cut and load coal at up to
40 tons per minute with a maximum cutting height of 11.2 feet.
2 Empty haulage unit travel speed Coal is hauled from CMs to feeder-breakers by 20-ton Joy
Model BH20 battery-powered haulage units. A ­feeder-breaker
is located at the centre of each production panel to transfer
mined coal from haulage units to conveyor belts. As the panel
advances, it is moved forward in three-crosscut increments
with each crosscut forming a row of in-line pillars across the
panel. The full width of the panel is mined in six-cross-cut
increments. The mine has experimented with different panel
widths and mining sequences. Currently, advancing base
widths of 11 and 13 entries before mining rooms is the most
common. Maximum and minimum panel widths are 21 and
11 entries, respectively. Each CM mines up to seven entries
on one side of a panel.
The objective of the simulation is to develop a valid DES
model that predicts unit mining costs and productivity and
3 Loaded haulage unit travel speed provides basic animation for verification. Input data used in
the model were obtained from time studies done at the mine as
described by histograms in Figs. 1–6. Raw data were analysed
to fit statistical distributions using the chi-squared goodness-
of-fit test as shown in Table 1. Input data include loading and
dumping times, payloads and battery change data, which are
sampled from the distribution. Model output includes produc-
tion per shift, tons per hour, total operating costs including
equipment costs and the calculated cost per ton for a given
panel width.

Model formulation: CM and haulage logic

The DES modelling framework requires system entities,
resources and processes to be specified by the analyst. To
4 Loaded haulage unit travel time initiate modelling, entities go through defined processes in
a logical manner waiting for needed resources to become
available at each process (i.e. resources are ‘busy’ if they are
decision. Since this varies from one situation to another, the being used by other entities) before they go through the pro-
authors chose not to attempt finding a single optimal solution, cess. The CM is modelled as a resource used for the loading
but to present a discussion of results relative to productivity process and can only load one haulage unit at a time. Loads
and unit costs. of coals are modelled as entities with specific attributes (entity

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Anani et al.  Application of discrete event simulation in optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel width

number, payload and cut sequence). Battery-powered haulage

units are model as guided transporters used for hauling loads
(entities). A guided transporter is an Arena®-specific mod-
elling construct for material haulage (Rockwell Automation
Inc. 2012). Transporters use entries and crosscuts as haulage
routes, which are modelled to restrict traffic flow such that any
point on a haulage route can only accommodate one haulage
unit at a time since mine openings are not wide enough for
them to pass each other. The feeder-breaker is also modelled
as a stationary resource used for dumping loads (entities). The
feeder-breaker and each cutting face are modelled as stations.
Points in the model where transporters transfer entities are
called stations. Haulage routes between stations are mod-
5 Haulage unit spotting time elled as network links to capture varying haulage distances.
Distances for each network link are an input to the model.
Figure 7 shows the logic used to model the system.

Verification and validation

An animation of the system was designed and used to verify
that the model performs as intended. The resource, trans-
porters, stations, and network links are modelled as part of
the animation for loading and transporting coal (entities).
Shift production data from the mine was used to validate
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the model. For validation, the simulation model predicted

coal production (load count/shift) and shift duration, which
was compared with data from a time-and-motion study con-
6 CM travel time between cuts ducted in one of the sections of the host mine where the panel
was being advanced with 13 entries. The time-and-motion
study collected data for 18 CM cuts completed over two

Table 1 Input data

Data (s) Distribution (s) P-value

Payload (kg) 10,886 –
Empty speed (m s−1) 1.86 + GAMM(0.0987, 5.05) <0.005
Loading time (s) 28 + ERLA(3.63, 3) <0.005
Dumping time (s) 6 + GAMM(2.79, 5.36) <0.005
Battery change (s) TRIA(5, 7, 10) <0.005
Loaded speed (m s−1) 1.77 + GAMM(0.0546, 7.26) <0.005
Time between cuts (s) NORM(797, 87.7) <0.005
Spotting time (s) 12.5 + GAMM(4.22, 2.11) <0.005

7 DES model logic

4 Mining Technology   2016

Anani et al.  Application of discrete event simulation in optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel width

8 Cut sequence for 11-entry base width

non-consecutive shifts. During the first shift, 6.33 hours were as an input based on mining practices at the mine. Mining
spent making 11 cuts with the remaining time spent on con- faces in the 11- or 13-entry base width are mined using the
veyor belt and CM repairs. The second shift was spent entirely cut sequence shown in Fig. 8. Rooms are mined using the
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on production; however, data was collected for only the first cut sequence shown in Fig. 9. The experiment evaluates a
half of the shift during which seven cuts were completed. super-section mining system with two CMs (one on each side
For both shifts, coal was hauled by four haulage units with of the section). The conveyor belt is located in the centre
an average payload of 10,886 kg (12 tons). The production entry of the panel.
reported from the CM’s onboard monitoring system indicates The simulation output includes production data (e.g. load
that the mine produced 2.2M kg (2448 tons) of coal from 204 count and total production tonnage), duration of mining and
loads and 3.2M kg (3576) from 298 loads during the first shift percentage of time the CM spends loading haulers. Other
and second shift, respectively. outputs include total cost of mining and estimated unit costs
In the validation experiment, 150 replications were con- (Equation (2)). Results of simulation experiments are dis-
ducted to obtain estimates of load count and total coal pro- cussed in the Results and Discussion section.
duction, mining duration and other output. The number of
replications selected was such that the half-width1 of the min- nCM CCM + nH CH tr + CF
( )
ing duration (the most uncertain output) is less than 1% of the Unit costs($∕ton) = 2
Total production
estimated duration. The cut sequence used in the validation
experiment duplicated that used during the time-and-motion where nCM and nH are the number of CMs and haulage units,
study. Each replication stops when all specified cuts have been respectively; tr is the duration of the simulation run; CCM and
mined in the simulation. Results are discussed in the Results CH are hourly costs for CMs and haulage units, respectively;
and Discussion section. and CF is fixed costs, which include labour and equipment for
advancing belt and power systems.

Simulation experiments and analysis

Results and discussion
Simulation experiments were designed to analyse the effect
of panel width (number of entries), number of haulage units Validation
assigned to each CM, and the cut sequence on mining cost Table 2 shows the results of the validation experiments for the
and productivity. At the mine, the staff have experimented first production shift. The model takes a bit longer (30 min
with cut sequences that advance 11 or 13 entries first before more) to mine the 11 cuts and also loads 24 more haulage units
expanding into rooms, if necessary. Hence, these experiments than the observed system. The key performance measures are
were to evaluate whether to advance with 11 or 13 entries the number of loads mined from the 11 cuts and the duration,
before mining rooms. Once the initial advance is mined, which are within 11 and 8%, respectively, of the actual values.
the mine has mined anywhere from no additional rooms to Both values are within the 15% specified earlier. The model
five additional rooms on each side. Hence, the experiment was thus deemed valid and used for all the experiments.
includes three factors:
• Number of base width entries (11 or 13); Effect of panel width
• Number of rooms (0, 1, …, 5 rooms on each side of the
panel); and Figures 10–17 show simulation results for experiments with
• Number of haulage units assigned to each CM (3, 4, the default number of haulage units (four per CM) where 11-
or 5). and 13-entry systems are mined with 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 rooms
This leads to a total of 2 × 6 × 3 = 36 combinations of on each side for a total number of entries between 11 (11-entry
experiments. For each experiment, 150 replications were run system with 0 rooms on each side) and 23 (13-entry system
for the analysis. Each replication was run until all cuts in the with 5 rooms on each side). These results indicate the effect of
sequence have been mined. The cut sequence was provided panel width (number of entries) on productivity and unit costs.

 Mining Technology  2016 5
Anani et al.  Application of discrete event simulation in optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel width

9 Room cut sequence for 11 entry advance with two additional rooms on each side

Table 2 Results of validation experiment

Parameter Actual Simulated Difference

Duration of mining (hours) 6.33 6.83 8%
Production (tons) 2448 2748 12%
Number of haulage units loads 204 226 11%
Half-width of duration (hours) – 0.012 –
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11 entry system 13 entry system

Figures 10 and 11 show that total production and duration
100,000 of mining increase with increasing number of entries. This
Producton (tons)

is what one would expect, if the model is performing well.

Figures 12 and 13 show that the percentage of production
50,000 time the CM spends loading haulage units initially increases
with increasing panel width until an optimal panel width. This
indicates that there is excess haulage unit capacity in the sys-
tem with less than optimal number of entries. CM operations
11 13 15 17 19 21 23
are inefficient due to the excessive spotting time resulting
Number of entries in long wait times and bunching; however, expanding panel
width beyond the optimal results in inadequate haulage unit
10 Total production
capacity and under utilisation of the CM. This is confirmed
by Figs. 14 and 15 showing that the optimal panel width.
Initial expansion of the panel reduces the haulage unit cycle
11 entry system 13 entry system
time (minimises waiting time). However, further expansion
240 of the panel increases haulage unit cycle times because haul
distances become longer, leading to a haulage unit constrained
Duration (hrs)

operation. Adding more haulage units will increase produc-

140 tivity and CM utilisation as discussed in Section Effect of
number of haulage units.
These trends (cycle time and CM loading times)
40 directly result in the observed trend in productivity (Fig. 16
11 13 15 17 19 21 23 Productivity). Panel widths of 17 and 19 entries result in max-
Number of entries imum productivity when advancing with a base width of 11
entries and 13 entries, respectively. However, this trend is not
11 Duration of mining
mirrored in unit cost results (Fig. 17) due to the effect of fixed
costs that make larger panels more cost-effective even with
sub-optimal productivity. In Fig. 17, unit costs are estimated
11 entry system 13 entry system
using Equation (2). Hourly costs of haulage units and CM
25.5 are estimated at $79.13 and $122.40 (InfoMine 2013).2 Fixed
Loading time (%)

costs for moving the belt are estimated at $81,050.

25.0 The following observations can be made from these
24.5 • 11-entry systems outperform 13-entry systems under
similar conditions (cut sequences and equipment);
24.0 • Haulage unit cycle times correlate very well with pro-
11 13 15 17 19 21 23 ductivity and CM loading;
Number of entries • There appears to be an optimal panel width for a given
number of haulage units based on productivity analysis;
12 CM time spent loading (LHS) and

6 Mining Technology   2016

Anani et al.  Application of discrete event simulation in optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel width

11 entry system 13 entry system 11 entry system 13 entry system

CM Utilization (%)

Cost per ton ($/t)


24.0 11 13 15 17 19 21 23
11 13 15 17 19 21 23
Number of entries
Number of entries
17 Unit costs
13 CM time spent loading (RHS)

11 entry system 13 entry system

3 Cars 4 Cars 5 Cars
10.50 560
Cyle time (mins)


Productivity (tph)
10.40 550
10.30 540
10.20 530
11 13 15 17 19 21 23
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Number of entries 520

11 13 15 17 19 21
14 Average cycle times (LHS) Number of entries

18 Effect of number of haulage units on productivity for

11 entry system 13 entry system 11-entry system
Cyle time (mins)

however, the increase when the number of haulage units

increases from three to four is much more significant than
the increase when the number of haulage units increases from
four to five. Also, the number of haulage units can affect
optimal panel width. For example, Fig. 18 shows that optimal
panel width with three haulage units assigned to each CM is
11 13 15 17 19 21 23 13 entries, whereas with four haulage units, optimal panel
width is 17 entries. This is because the number of assigned
Number of entries
haulage units affects the width at which the system becomes
limited by haulage unit capacity.
15 Average cycle times (RHS)
Figures 20 and 21 show the sensitivity of unit cost results
to number of haulage units. With each additional haulage
11 entry system 13 entry system unit, unit costs increase for both 11- and 13-entry systems.
The following observations can be made based on these
Productivity (tph)

555 • Results are sensitive to the number of haulage units as

550 follows:
• Productivity increases with additional haulage units, and
545 • Optimal number of entries changes with varying number
540 of haulage units.
11 13 15 17 19 21 23 • Cost increases outpace productivity increases with each
Number of entries additional haulage unit leading to higher unit costs.

16 Productivity
Effect of fixed costs
From Equation (2), if fixed costs are negligible, the unit costs
• Unit costs decrease with increasing number of entries
curve should be the inverse of the productivity relationship.
due to the effect of fixed costs.
However, Figs. 16 and 17 do not show this relationship
indicating that fixed costs significantly affect the unit cost
Effect of number of haulage units relationship. Figure 22 shows the sensitivity of the unit cost
relationship to fixed costs using results for the 11-entry system
Figures 18 and 19 show the sensitivity of productivity results with four haulage units (same as Fig. 17). Figure 22 shows
to the number of haulage units. It can be observed that with that the unit cost relationship will indeed show an optimal at
the addition of each haulage unit, productivity increases; 17 entries if fixed costs are less than or equal to $1000. Fixed

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Anani et al.  Application of discrete event simulation in optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel width

3 Cars 4 Cars 5 Cars costs as low as $2000 more than compensate for any decline in
productivity due to under-resourced CMs. That is, with high
560 fixed costs (≥$2000), unit costs for mining larger panels will
be lower, even though productivity will be sub-optimal after
Productivity (tph)

550 the panel width exceeds the optimal panel width for produc-
tivity. From a cost perspective, larger panels are advantageous
540 because of fixed costs included in moving belt and power.

520 This research effort has successfully built a discrete event
13 15 17 19 21 23 simulation model that can be used to facilitate panel
Number of entries width design. The DES model is capable of ­evaluating
the effect of panel width (number of entries) on R&P
19 Effect of number of haulage units on productivity for mine ­productivity and unit costs. The DES model has
13-entry system
­successfully been ­validated for the mine that cooperated
with this study. The validated model has been used to
­evaluate the effect of panel width on productivity and unit
3 Cars 4 Cars 5 Cars
costs of the mine.
$3.60 Based on results of this work, the following general con-
clusions can be made:
Unit costs ($/ton)

$3.20 • For particular operating conditions (equipment, cut

sequence, etc.), there exist an optimal panel width that
maximises productivity.
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$2.40 • For particular operating conditions, an optimal panel

width exists that minimises unit costs, only if the fixed
$2.00 costs are negligible. For any significant fixed cost, larger
11 13 15 17 19 21 panels will always result in lower unit costs.
Number of entries For the cooperating mine, in particular, the following con-
clusions can be drawn:
20 Effect of number of haulage units on unit costs for • The 11-entry system is better than the 13-entry system.
11-entry system This is a function of cut sequences used.
• The practice of moving the belt after mining three cross-
cuts to ensure haul distances to rooms is reasonable.
3 Cars 4 Cars 5 Cars
• The optimal panel width under simulated conditions is
$3.60 17 entries (3 rooms on each side of the 11-entry base
Unit costs ($/ton)

$3.20 • Four (4) haulage units should be assigned to each CM

in the panel.

13 15 17 19 21 23 This work was made possible with funding from the Illinois
Clean Coal Institute. The authors are grateful for the support
Number of entries
of Prairie State Generating Company, owners of the cooper-
21 Effect of number of haulage units on unit costs for
ating mine for their support during this research. The authors
13-entry system are also thankful to Ms Sisi Que and Mr Mark Boateng for
their assistance.

$- $500.00 Funding
$1,000.00 $2,000.00 This work was supported by Illinois clean coal institute
$1.65 [13/3B-1].
Unit cost ($/ton)


$1.55 Notes
  1. Half-width = tn−1,1−𝛼∕2 √s n, tn−1, 1−α/2 = critical values from
11 13 15 17 19 21 t  tables, n  =  number of replications, s  =  sample
No. of entries standard deviation.
  2. InfoMine cost data is used in this paper to protect the
22 Effect of fixed costs on unit cost relationships mine’s confidential data.

8 Mining Technology   2016

Anani et al.  Application of discrete event simulation in optimising coal mine room-and-pillar panel width

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