By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

Every two years Coal Age holds the highly informative Longwall USA Conference and Exhibition during June in Pittsburgh. The David L. Lawrence Convention Center will be the venue for the largest trade show dedicated to longwall mining. Approximately 2,000 delegates are expected to attend the event, which takes place June 16-18, 2009.

Longwall USA 2009 offers something for everyone interested in underground coal mining. More than 150 vendors will showcase equipment and services in the exposition area, while mining professionals share their experiences in a series of presentations during the technical conference.

In addition to the general sessions, the program includes a seated Keynote luncheon sponsored by the Pittsburgh section of SME. Kurt Kost, president and COO, Foundation Coal, will deliver the Keynote address. Coal Age will then award the three top-performing U.S. longwalls. Proceeds from the luncheon are donated to the Pittsburgh Section of SME’s scholarship fund. Seating for the event is limited, so please purchase tickets as soon as possible.

Program Offers Timely Technical Content
Longwall USA 2009’s technical program offers five sessions: Changes and the Future for Longwall Mining, Global Innovative Practices, Health & Safety, New Technology, and Development & Operations.

Jim Kvitkovich, John T. Boyd, will lead off with “Economic Trends in U.S. Longwall Mining.” He will discuss trends such as pricing, investment, operating results, etc. Carl Pollastro, Norwest Mine Services, will follow with, “What’s New in Longwall Mining.” In “Monetizing Carbon Credits Through Longwall Degasification,” Jeff Liebert, Verdeo Group, will discuss how changes in regulations, mainly the capture of coal mine methane extracted from the gob or the vent shafts, represents not only an opportunity to use the gas for productive purposes, but also to generate an additional revenue stream. Ken Cram, Coal Services in Australia, will present “Australian Longwall Mines Coal Production, Accident Performance and Airborne Dust & Quartz Results.” In his report he will examine the accident and personal injury status of the Australian longwall mines and how this has impacted mine operations through lost time injury  frequency and accident incidence rates.

During the Tuesday afternoon session on Global Innovative Practices, Ed Niederriter, Joy Mining Machinery, will share his experience with high seams in China and Russia. Colin Merriman, Joy Australasia, will discuss the new 1,750 metric ton (mt) shields being installed in Australia. Klaus Beck, chairman and CEO, OKD, will discuss his company’s plans to revitalize several mines in the Czech Republic. Clive Hibbert, Joy, and Nigel Goff, BHP San Juan, will discuss new analytical techniques being used to understand chain dynamics.

Wednesday morning the technical program opens with a Health & Safety session. In a presentation titled, “The Use of Simulations in Training Miners to Make Good Decisions During Mine Emergencies,” Charles Vaught, NIOSH, will talk about a new computer-based training scenario in which the trainee will interact with a computer to navigate a virtual mine where there is a fire. David Chirdon, MSHA, and George Allekote, Foundation Coal, will follow with “Communications & Tracking Performance Update.” Hamid Maleki, a mining consultant based in Utah, will present “Analysis  of Sudden Floor Heave in Deep Western U.S. Mines.” Steve Tadolini, Minova, will present “Cable Bolting System Strategies and Applications for Longwall Mining.” He will describe the major improvements that have been made to resin grouted cable bolt support systems, current design theories, and provide details of longwall  applications.

During the New Technology session on Wednesday afternoon, Paul Erickson and Jacob Hatch with Arch Coal’s Sufco mine will present “21.6 kV Electrical Distribution System Design at Sufco Mine.” The presentation will describe system considerations that influenced the final design. In “Longwall VFDs at Mach Mining/ Williamson Energy,” Anthony Webb, Mach Mining, will discuss how his company, which was the first to incorporate VFDs on the pumps and stageloader, has been able to use many of the advantages of this system. Steve O’Connell from Arch Coal’s West Elk mine will present, “Vibration Monitoring at Mountain Coal West Elk Mine.” He will discuss his experience with the Bucyrus online vibration monitoring system, the practical obstacles of operating this system on a longwall face, and the data that was obtained during the first panel of operation. In a presentation titled, “Intelligent Equipment and Systems in the German Hard Coal Mining Industry,” Dr.-  Ing. Martin Junker, RAG, will discuss how automated systems can be used to improve safety and productivity.

In Thursday morning’s Development & Operations session, Brant Wright will demonstrate the latest advancements in gate road development in his presentation, “In Shield Utilization of AC Powered Shield Haulers and the Associated Productivity Improvements.”

Rick Kim, Bucyrus, will showcase the VT-650 AC, the first of the company’s newest generation of shield movers. Randy Tatton and  Skinner Forbush, Arch Coal, will explain how they have improved the efficiency of longwall moves by using diesel-powered equipment. The conference will close with a presentation by Dr. Uli Paschedag on automated plow systems.