JAN 2022

Benchmarking Underground Coal Mining Productivity for 2021 

Benchmarking has the meaning of “evaluating (something) by comparison with a standard”. MCS have been providing the underground coal mining industry in South Africa with benchmarking information for more than 12 years. In its simplest form, this is done graphically, comparing the production of underground continuous miner sections with each other:

Each bar on the graph represents the number of Tonnes produced by an individual bord and pillar section. As can be seen no names are divulged. The data is comprised of 108 sections. There were five (5) sections that produced more than a million Run of Mine Tonnes for the 2021 calendar year. This increased from four sections in 2020 and four sections in 2019. 

An analysis of the performance achieved over the course of 2021 have indicated the following as the primary drivers of the production achieved per section:

  • The number of Continuous Miners and other mining equipment operating in a section
  • Seam (mining) height and mining conditions
  • Shift systems / roster / number of production crews
  • Mining process KPI performance (e.g., production time and rate)
  • Maintenance systems
  • Labour related challenges

Our benchmarking methodology includes a detailed consideration of the above drivers of optimal production in order to provide our clients with an accurate reflection of how they compare against peers on a “like for like” basis.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all the mines that have participated in our benchmarking for 2021 and trust you have seen value from it. If you would like somebody to contact you to discuss our benchmarking services, please email your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DEC 2021

Collaboration creates synergies. 

Collaboration has the meaning of “working with someone to produce something”, and synergy means “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

At MCS we have been fortunate to be able to collaborate with many clients and peers over the past 33 years since our founding in 1988. This has led to many firsts in the underground coal mining industry. We are truly thankful to have come this far during these collaborations, especially where some of these included new technology:

  • Electronic monitoring of various Continuous Miners and other mining equipment.
  • Introduction of Intrinsically Safe Wi-Fi up to the coalface in South African collieries.
  • Implementation of underground handheld computers and tablets in South African collieries.
  • Introduction of total section monitoring in underground bord and pillar collieries.
  • Implementation of end-to-end planning, tracking and monitoring software (ProdMate®), tailormade to suit the requirements of each client.

Our technology has been successfully used in synergy with our Process Based Production Management Philosophy in the form of “POP’s” (Productivity Optimisation Projects) since 2001, with consistent productivity improvements achieved across the board. Since 2007 this has been supported by our Mining Process Training, which ensures the longevity and sustainability of a Productivity Optimization Project, especially when personnel turnover dilutes the collective knowledge. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to our clients, hardware partners and software partners that have collaborated with us to make our journey possible.

NOV 2021

How Software Has Supported Growth & Diversification at MCS. 

MCS was founded in 1988 as a small Mining Consultancy business operating in the traditional spheres within the significant mining market that is South Africa.

In the early 1990’s, almost a decade before the IoT phrase was coined, the organization spotted an opportunity in the technology sector to design and build monitoring units that allowed engineering data to be collected from the primary mining machine in bord and pillar coal mining.

In the late 1990’s the then MD realized that the data could also be used to provide production information that was successfully used as the primary information to drive numerous highly successful production optimization projects throughout South Africa and abroad.

With the move to online communication in the early 2000’s the need to have a permanent software capability became a prerequisite and allowed the company to pioneer monitoring of secondary machines and the development of an expandable SQL platform. Planning capability and task management followed to allow every minute of a shift to be accurately captured.

The technology has been successfully adapted to open cast mining resulting in significant production improvements and it was logical to consider alternative industries. Successful use in numerous Windfarm construction projects in Australia where the move to almost real time progress monitoring allowing for short interval control by management.

The latest advances in ICT have now allowed MCS to move into supporting construction software initiatives and lately developing a total Tender Management System using open-source technologies to produce an innovative stack that minimizes cost and maximises flexibility through cross platform implementation.

The continuing evolution of ICT and particularly software is providing MCS with the opportunity to diversify from its mining roots into a multi-faceted organisation.

OCT 2021

Mining Consultancy Services is proud to announce complete digital bord and pillar section monitoring through ProdMate® Integrated Production Management Platform. 

In a collaboration with several OEM’s and customers MCS have integrated data from feeder breakers, shuttle cars, roof bolter and continuous miner with app driven input/outputs for labour, equipment, section mining parameters, production stats, tasks and audits using our SQL based ProdMate® system.

The ProdMate® planning function allows line management to plan each shift and create accurate predictions of expected production. The enhanced monitoring allows for every event in the shift to be captured and establish why targets were exceeded or not achieved thus allowing for informed remedial action plan creation.

Whilst all the system components have been tried and tested in various combinations, the complete suite has never been rolled out in a section. It is a very positive step that two mining houses have recently opted to utilize total section monitoring in their pursuit of safe production initiatives.

In both cases the continuous miner information will be processed from different OEM data files, the feeder breaker, shuttle cars and roof bolter data are from the switchgear. To complete the information loop downtimes, labour, mining information, safety and other task management is derived from the proprietary tablet app.

All the information is processed in virtual real time using a combination of BPLM, Wi-Fi and standard data transfer protocols. The system is web based and hence data can be viewed from any connected device, local dashboards as well as the suite of management reports.

The ProdMate® system can be used as a standalone system to which other information such as conveyors and diesel can be integrated, it can also receive and send information to existing ERP systems, typically a combination of both is the preferred methodology.