Update on face-ventilation research for improved longwall-dust control (Technical Paper)

Jankowski, R. A. ; Colinet, J. F.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Although the number of operating longwall mining systems has remained relatively constant, longwall production levels during the last five years have increased significantly. In the United States, longwall mining now accounts for approximately 50% of all underground coal production. While longwalls are highly productive and offer other advantages, operations employing this method of mining continue to experience dust-compliance problems. This increased longwall productivity has meant that far more dust is being produced. An improved understanding of the longwall face-ventilation system and the advancement of face-ventilation technologies are necessary to ensure all face personnel are allowed to work in an environment that is free of excessive levels of airborne respirable coal mine dust. The Dust and Toxic Substances Control Branch, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, examined several basic principles of the long wall face-ventilation system and has evaluated the effectiveness of numerous improved face-ventilation techniques for longwall mining systems. These include identifying improved techniques for measuring face-ventilation parameters on longwall mining sections and investigating the fundamental relationship between face airflow and the entrainment and dilution of respirable coal mine dust. Studies have been completed to determine the impact on face dust levels of using belt entry air to ventilate the longwall. Novel methods have been identified to increase the face air¬flow and to manage face airflow to effectively minimize dust exposure to face workers. Unique systems of auxiliary face ventilation have been developed and evaluated at full-scale, simulated longwall test facilities. The theoretical and applied aspects of each of these principles and technologies are discussed. Application of these results throughout the longwall mining industry, as documented from surveys conducted in the early 1980s and 1990s, have reduced the health hazard associated with excessive exposure to respirable coal mine dust.
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