By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

The Pittsburgh Convention Center will once again host the Longwall USA Conference & Exhibition, June 11-13, 2013. As many as 2,000 people are expected to turn out for the event, which is widely believed to be the biggest trade show for underground coal operators in general and longwall managers in particular. The Iron City is a great location simply because many of the U.S. longwall mines cut coal from the Pittsburgh No. 8 seam in the region. Likewise, many of the companies that provide services for these longwalls are also located nearby. Being a world-class city, longwall miners from around the U.S.—and the world for that matter—can easily attend the three-day trade show.

In addition to a peer-reviewed technical program, more than 100 vendors will showcase their services during the exposition. They are listed in alphabetical order on the pages that follow this article. Longwall USA also affords longwall enthusiasts the chance to mix with their peers at several social events. The Pittsburgh Pirates are in town and the ball park in only a short walk from the convention center across the Allegheny River.

The centerpiece for Longwall USA is the conference’s technical program. More than 20 experts will deliver presentations covering new development in technology, safety, operations and maintenance in five 2-hour sessions. Coal Age will present awards to the top peforming U.S. longwall during the keynote luncheon on Wednesday. Seth Schwartz with Energy Ventures Analysis will deliver the keynote. Tickets for this event are limited. Professional development hours are available for engineers attending the conference.

New Developments & Technologies
The conference kicks off Tuesday morning (June 11) at 9 a.m. In his presentation, Grosvenor Longwall Project—Design for Benchmark Safety and Productivity, Anglo American Coal’s Dieter Haage will explain the approach followed and the outcome achieved in support of benchmark safety and productivity for the Grosvenor mine.

While the U.S. is the leader in North America, several longwalls operate in Mexico. Joel de Luna, general manager of the Micare mine, will discuss longwall mining at Micare Mine VII, which began operations in November 2012.

In his presentation, Fluid Power Generation & Transport Systems for Longwalls, Frank Dulin, from Swanson Industries, will discuss hardware recommendations for monorail mounted pumps, including placement strategies and maintenance needs. The session will conclude with a presentation by Dakota Faulkner, R&D engineer for Keystone Mining Services. He will provide an update on new ground support systems for longwall gate roads.

Safety & Health
The second session begins on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Dr. Lori Guasta, director of organizational behavior and emerging markets for Safety Solutions International, will present, Measurement Before Management: Best Practices for Assessing Safety Culture. She will discuss how to assess a company’s safety culture and develop and implement a culture enhancement plan. Emphasis will be given to the importance of measuring or assessing culture before attempting to manage it.

In his presentation, A Review of Dust Control Techniques for Longwalls, Joe Defibaugh, engineer, dust and ventilation, JoyGlobal, will discuss better ways to control respirable dust levels and the impact of future regulations for dust control in longwall mines.

Marcia Harris from NIOSH will discuss rock dusting practices to effectively inert the coal dust production during the longwall mining process.

Dr. Jürgen F. Brune, Colorado School of Mines (CSM), will present Control of Explosive Zones and Oxygen Penetration in Longwall Gobs through Nitrogen Injection. In a project sponsored by NIOSH, CSM researchers have used computational fluid dynamics modeling to simulate the flow of methane, oxygen and nitrogen in longwall gobs.

The session will conclude with Completing the Development of Longwall Foam Dust Suppression, by Dr. Paul A. Kittle with Aquafoam. He will discuss a new form of dust control at the shearer.

Proximity Detection
The third session (Wednesday, June 12, 9-11 a.m.) will focus on proximity detection systems. Michael B. McMillion, senior mechanical engineer, coal operations support, with CONSOL Energy will present Personal Proximity Detection for Underground Coal Mining Equipment. He will discuss CONSOL Energy’s experience with proximity detection starting with continuous miner sections two years ago and progressing forward to new systems for longwalls today.