Celtic Miner cuts Kiwi Coal
Monday, October 5th, 2009
A small South Wales company which makes unique mining machinery has captured the interest of New Zealand’s biggest coal producer.
Metal Innovations Ltd, based at Llandow in the Vale of Glamorgan, produces two material extraction machines called Celtic Miners, along with bespoke associated equipment.
The company is attracting global inquiries about its machines, which it says offer lower infrastructure and operating costs and improved productivity in various mining and tunnelling conditions.
State-owned Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd is using a modified five-tonne CM4500 and linked systems at one of its mines at Huntly, North Island, after sending two managers to South Wales to see the machine in action.
Solid Energy extracts and processes more than four million tonnes of coal a year from its seven underground and opencast mines. Their order from Metal Innovations included a specially-developed hydraulic power pack, linked conveyors and a multi-purpose tracked materials handler.
The CM system is also being put through its paces by UK Coal at its prolific Daw Mill colliery near Coventry. International construction and engineering group Costain used a CM4500 on a £16m water project beneath London and Columbian mining representatives have also been to see MI’s machines at Llandow.
The MI range – which includes a CM1500 for the smallest seams – has been developed by managing director Gareth Thomas and his design and engineering team after extensive tests at the company’s own mines in the South Wales coalfield.
Industry observers, including Tyrone O’Sullivan, former chairman of South Wales’ famous worker-owned Tower Colliery, have voiced the view that the MI machines could improve the economics of coal recovery, prolong the life of some pits and enable the reopening of closed seams.
MI managing director Gareth Thomas, who spent three weeks in NZ with a small team training Solid Energy operatives, said “We welcome this further opportunity to demonstrate the Celtic Miner’s capabilities on an international stage.
“Our experience in the industry convinced us of the need for these machines which can be adapted to the precise requirements of the client. We are delighted that word is spreading.”
Metal Innovations was recently named as one of Wales’ most forward-thinking companies in a leading business magazine survey. The company also featured in a television documentary about the future for coal in the UK.