Elemental composition of coal dust created by mining and laboratory size reduction: A comparison

Johnson, C. J. ; Bise, C. J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1990
Coal extraction by continuous miners (CM) is currently the most common underground method in the US industry and accounts for slightly more than two-thirds of the nation's deep mining production (National Coal Association, 1987). Even if longwall mining should become more commonplace, it can proceed only after ventilation and access entries have been driven by CMs. Since an area of concern continues to be the effects of the dust generated on the health of mineworkers, this paper discusses the relationship between the elemental compositon of mining-generated airborne dust sampled from the immediate ventilation return of a CM and laboratory-generated dust derived from channel samples taken from the mines. There are several potential contributions of this type of study to the coal mining industry. First, after more fundamental knowledge of the causes of Coal Worker's Pneumoconiosis (CWP) is learned, the laboratory-generated respirable dust could be used to identify a potentially hazardous coal seam. Also, this study could possibly aid in understanding the fundamental causes of CWP by producing mining-simulated samples of coal dust that could be used in epidemiological studies. Further. assuming that there is no difference in the elemental composition of a drill-core sample and a channel sample from the same location, a mining company could predict anew mine's respirable dust elemental composition in the immediate ventilation return by using exploratory drill core samples of the roof, coal, and floor rock to prepare the laboratory dust. Ventilation engineers could then use engineering design and control measures during premine planning to reduce the incidence and severity of CWP by better ventilating the potentially hazardous coal seam. If this proper planning prevented any future changes to the ventilation equipment and mine design. much time and money could be saved. Scope of work To investigate the variability of the chemical characteris tics of respirable dust, airborne dust samples from eight underground coal mines located in the eastern and midwestern United States were collected with eight-stage Sierra Model 298 Marple cascade impactors, as well as 25 channel samples of mined material. Each channel sample was removed from the middle of the coal face before mining occurred. Sampling of the mining-generated dust was conducted by Lee (1986) by sampling the entire working sections, primarily for characterization purposes, to obtain information on the locational variability of dust characteristics. Research performed for this study used the elemental analyses of the mining-generated dusts he sampled in the immediate ventilation returns of CMs. The procedure that was used to produce the laboratory generated respirable dust was based on the Hardgrove grindability test since it reflects the pulverizing characteristics of coal. This test was chosen for several additional reasons. First, it is repeatable and reproducible. A consistent amount of input energy is used as well as a specified size range of feed material to be crushed (the channel samples). Second, it is thought to generate secondary dust in a way similar to that of the crushing and grinding of the coal and rock as they pass through the arc-shaped cutting path of the CM's cutter head. The potential effect on dust generation by this secondary grinding mechanism may be at least as much as that produced by primary fragmentation, which is dust produced by the cutting action of the bit against the coal or rock (Roepke. 1984). Finally, the Hardgrove grindability test is well known and is used in the coal industry to guide mineral processing engineers in estimating the capacity of mills used to grind coal. One hypothesis of dust researchers in the Generic Technology Center for Respirable Dust is that the elemental as well as the physical characteristics of coal mine dust will make a difference in the incidence and severity of CWP. Coal mine dust is generated not only from coal, but also from any rock partings contained within the seam or any roof or floor material mined with the coal. Thus, coal mine dust may not have the same elemental characteristics as the coal being mined. Given that hypothesis, mixtures proportional to each thick┬Čness mined of roof, coal, and floor rock derived from the channel samples of the face areas from which the respirable dusts were generated by the CMs were used to produce the feed material that was pulverized in the Hardgrove machine.
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