September 2023
Volume 75    Issue 9

A review of current scheduling and design practices in the Powder River Basin

McBrayer, Amy; Brickey, Andrea


Area mining is a surface mining method that allows for efficient mining and contemporaneous reclamation of tabular or bedded deposits, such as coal. Mine planning methods for area mines differ from those for openpit metal mines. Area mines in the Powder River Basin (PRB) use various processes for mine planning at both the strategic and tactical stages. With the ever-changing commodity markets, it is becoming increasingly important for mine operators to be able to react quickly to the changing business environment. Tools that allow for the development and rapid comparison of production schedule scenarios are key to ensuring agile mine operations. A survey of mine engineers responsible for mine design and production scheduling at coal operations provides clarity on the current mine design and production scheduling processes in the PRB, as well as a discussion on potential solutions to upcoming challenges. In this work, we describe various mine-planning processes used by the coal producers in the PRB. The survey identifies a clear gap in the ability to create comprehensive schedules associated with the limited tools and lack of engineering labor needed to frequently conduct the mine design and scheduling process.

Full-text paper:
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2023) 40:1059–1080,


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