Shortwall Mining the Pittsburgh Coal Seam in Northern West Virginia

Merlo, Bernard L.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 14
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION Modern mine management is constantly striving to develop improved mining methods which will not only increase productivity, but will also provide a safer work environment and make the most efficient use of our natural resources. Progress can be seen in this area by tracing mining methods through history. Work that was originally done with hand tools progressed with the age of mechanization to conventional mining, matured to continuous and longwall mining, and the advent of short¬wall mining, a combination of continuous and longwall, has recently been seen. This new method of shortwall mining provides a promising method for safe and ex¬pedient coal extraction. This study focuses upon the planning, design de¬velopment, and operation of the first producing short¬wall unit in the US which was operated in the Pittsburgh coal seam in northern West Virginia. MINE DESCRIPTION The mine is located in northern West Virginia at Grant Town in the heart of the high volatile Pittsburgh coal seam. Originally opened in 1901, the mine has be¬come one of the largest in the US, encompassing an area of approximately 103.6 sq km (40 sq miles). The seam being mined was the high volatile Pittsburgh seam which ranged in thickness from 1.8 to 2.96 m (6 to 91/2 ft). Three types of mining methods were employed: con¬tinuous mining, longwalling, and shortwalling, with each type accounting for 50%, 30%, and 20% of total pro¬duction, respectively. A total of 630 contract and super¬visory personnel were employed to produce the mine's designed annual tonnage of 1.8 Mt (2 million st). There were ten producing sections, eight continuous miners, one longwall, and one shortwall, operating a total of 22 unit shifts per day. Eight shafts, varying in depth from 80.2 to 194.2 m (263 to 637 ft) provided entrance to the Pittsburgh coal seam. These shafts were used for ventilation, portaling, coal hoisting, supply, and emergency escape hoisting. Ventilation was achieved by means of three exhaust fans which provided 707.9 m3/s (1.5 million cfm) of air to the mine and removed approximately 141 584 m3 (5 mil¬lion cu ft) of methane per 24 hr period. The room-and-pillar method was used for secondary recovery with designed barrier blocks between panels of 61 m (200 ft) in width. A double row of blocks was left around each gob area to provide efficient bleeder action
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