When the coal is transported by the AFC along the longwall face it reaches the beam stage loader at the end of the face. The beam stage loader is simply a chain conveyor that transport coal from the AFC to the main belt conveyor. Also incorporated into the beam stage loader is a small crusher to reduce the particle size of the coal for easier transportation. There are two discharge configurations for the beam stage loader :
End discharge :
This configuration allows the AFC to overlap the beam stage loader so that coal falls down onto it. This configuration is used for coal that is very slabby.
Side Discharge :
Most modern design AFC utilises a side discharge arrangement to push the coal directly onto the beam stage loader. This design is most suited to coal with large lumps. This design can also transport a higher capacity of coal. The picture opposite shows a side disgharge design beam stage loader.
Once the coal is transported onto the belt conveyor it is then transported to the surface for processing.