This paper examines a problem related to dispatching materials to spreaders in coal (lignite) mines operated under the paradigm of continuously excavated material flow. In the considered particular case, complexity arises from different material types of overburden to be placed on the dump site in pre-defined patterns that guarantee geotechnical safety. These types include wet, semi-wet and dry material, which are accessed on the excavation site according to the geological deposition and the mining plan. Controlling of the dispatch system has to take into account the extraction sequence and geological stratification on the excavation site and the available dump space per material on the dumping site. With eight excavators on the excavation site and seven spreaders on the dump site the problem is already complex, having not stated yet that random breakdowns may make some options temporarily unavailable. To optimize the dispatch system in terms of minimum idle time due to unavailability of dumping space, a new multi-stage simulation-based optimization approach is proposed. This approach consists of running alternatingly a deterministic optimization model and a stochastic simulation model. It combines simulation and algorithms to solve a transportation problem and a job-shop scheduling problem. The proposed approach is tested on a large continuous mine under given different dumping sequences, and results are reported. The merits and limitations of the proposed approach as pinpointed and farsighted operations management are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1108-1125
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2019

    Research areas

  • Material dispatching, Opencast coal mining, OR in natural resources, Short-term scheduling, Simulation-based optimization

ID: 51491797