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Machine Mining and Labour Problems

    Naturevolume 135page990 (1935) | Download Citation



    ALTHOUGH machine mining has made comparatively rapid progress during recent years, there is still room for a great advance in mechanisation. In a paper by Mr. J. Dooley, printed in the Mining Electrical Engineer of February, it is stated that in Yorkshire, which is one of the most progressive coal fields of Great Britain, only about one third of the coal produced is cut by machines and only about a sixth is loaded on to conveyor belts. There are a few coal seams from which coal simply rolls over into the ‘tub’, and it would be quite unnecessary to ‘machine-cut’ the faces of these seams. But even in these cases mechanical loading could be economically applied by means of conveyors of suitable design. Another economic factor which has to be taken into account is the possibility of a shortage of suitable labour in the near future. This question may rapidly become acute as newer and more attractive industries and interests arise to attract the boys and young men who would otherwise automatically enter the pits. It is true that to some extent machines displace labour temporarily, yet the position may be reversed, and collieries be compelled to put in machines because sufficient labour is not available. It is essential for colliery managers to get to work with new ideas, and arrange and organise systems of work so that full advantage be taken of the existing types of machinery. There are machines already in use designed to carry enormous loads in supporting the roof and protecting other machines employed for cutting, loading and conveying coal simultaneously. American collieries have very large outputs per ‘man shift’, far in advance of anything ever attempted in Great Britain.

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