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|Longwall mining is considered to be the most efficient underground coal-mining technique in terms of coal extraction ratio, production rate and safety standards. Due to the increasing demand for higher coal production, the recent trends have been to use wider panels and to maintain a faster face movement. For these reasons, longwall mining can result in unexpected roof falls, excessive face convergence, shield damage and numerous maintenance problems, which can cause sudden interruption of coal production as well as serious safety hazards. Recent work at the University of Alabama has been dedicated to the development of a longwall strata-control and maintenance system that can integrate real-time shield monitoring, data presentation, analysis, forecasting and warning modules. This integrated system has been called LoSCoMS. The main objective of the system is to provide minute-by-minute stability and maintenance information such as the following: high-load, low-setting pressure, leg leakage, etc.; the analysis of various mining and geological parameters to determine past and present roof characteristics; and the forecasting of loading patterns for the following mining cycles, the next periodic weighting, etc. By using this unique system, mine operations personnel are well aware of past, present and future roof-loading patterns at the longwall face and, thus, proper safety measures can be taken ahead of time.|