Lessons Learned from Refuge Alternative Research by NIOSH

Occupancy derating of refuge alternatives in underground coal mines

In 2006, three tragedies occurred that deeply affected the mining community. After an explosion the day after New Year’s at the Sago mine in West Virginia, 12 trapped miners installed a barricade to try to preserve a breathable environment, but 11 ultimately succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, and only one survived. A few weeks later at the Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine less than 200 miles away in the same state, a belt fire broke out, and two of the 29 miners in the mine died while trying to escape. In a third tragedy a few months later at the Darby No. 1 mine in Kentucky, an explosion occurred, with two miners killed by the initial explosion and three others killed by carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to escape.
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Virginia Metallurgical Coal Team Wins MSHA National Rescue Contest

Teamwork, preparations yield perfect performance under pressure from tenured crew

The win streak went back to May.

Confidence was high.

Yet the pressure was on, the competition was the best in the country, and the title was on the line. And despite all that, Wellmore Energy Co.’s Red Team delivered its second technically perfect performance in two days, winning nationals and taking the big trophy home to Big Rock, Virginia.

Team Captain Shannon Moore, scoop operator, attributed the victory to dedication and teamwork. “With the difficulty of it, you’ve got to work as a team, and if one knows what the other is doing, then you’ve got seconds on top of people, which allows you to finish,” he said.

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Is the Ultra-class Truck Dream Dead?

Two mining engineers review lessons from a manufacturing ‘leap of faith’ and see different futures for the world’s biggest haulers

Ultra-class trucks have now been around for almost two decades, a timeframe ample for meaningful reflection. Beyond the data, there are now plenty of case studies and stories to consider that can make the case both for and against their deployment. A couple of mining engineering professors from Canada said after glancing back it becomes apparent the ultra-class hauler does have its place, which is also to say that there are mines where it definitely doesn’t belong. A handful of variables determine which is the case for a particular mine. Where they diverge is if there is now a trend at play reflecting this reality and what that trend looks like.
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Moving More For Less

The industry is asking for conveyors with higher capacities, lower energy costs and safer, more reliable components, along with less environmental impact. Here’s how system suppliers are meeting those requests.

Conveyor systems offer mine operators a seemingly simple solution to a perpetual problem — getting bulk material from Point A to Point B in the quickest, lowest-cost and most reliable way possible. And at the most basic level, a sufficient number of frames, pulleys, idlers and motors, and a roll of conveyor belting can be arranged to transport just about any type of mined material almost anywhere. But, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” Simplicity and engineering elegance are not necessarily one and the same, and the frequent need to assign critical production flow to a single conveyor system can elevate the risk of high downtime costs to a level that makes faulty design, component failures or unplanned maintenance unacceptable.

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Stockpile Volumetrics: The Drone-based Solutions Buyer’s Guide

Suppliers offer turnkey solutions that reveal a trend toward enabling eventual continuous monitoring

Everyone in the drone-based stockpile volumetrics solutions sector could technically be labeled a startup. The sector is maybe a half decade old, and even the tenured players have barely been at it that long. Nonetheless, an idea whose time has come is usually punctual. Thus, the field is growing. And at mine sites around the world, increasingly inexpensive, accurate and fast drone-based solutions are changing expectations and workflows, and could soon make obsolete some longstanding inventory auditing norms.

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U.S. Prep Plant Census 2017

Interest in processing projects returns

The worst may have passed for the coal processing sector. The good news is that two new plants were added to the U.S. Prep Plant Census in 2017. Another encouraging sign is that the engineering firms that design and build these plants have noticed a renewed interest in projects. The recent shake-out in the coal business led to a few more plants being listed as idle this year, while a few older idled plants were removed after it was confirmed that they were scrapped.

The total number of U.S. prep plants dropped from 252 to 248 and the number of idled plants increased from 59 to 61. The census lists 17 anthracite plants in Pennsylvania. The total number of operating plants washing bituminous coal has now dropped to 170. West Virginia remains the leader with 70 plants (29% are idle), followed by Kentucky (52, 38% idle), and Pennsylvania (22 bituminous and two idle). Virginia and Ohio have 19 and 18 prep plants, respectively, with only a few idle.

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