New Convention Center Hosts Longwall USA 2003

New Convention Center Hosts Longwall USA 2003 – coal industry convention


In the two years that passed since the last Longwall USA conference, a lot of changes have taken place – most of them for the better. The longwall mining business remains vital to U.S. coal production and several mines announced improved production, but the total population dropped from 57 to 52 longwalls. Pittsburgh has completely renovated its convention center downtown (See below). DBT America, primarily a longwall original equipment manufacturer (OEM) at the time and one of the major exhibitors in 2001, acquired Long-Airdox, another major coal OEM. That acquisition propelled DBT to a level where it now competes head-to-head with Joy Mining Machinery and other leading underground OEMs.

Resuming a more traditional format, Longwall USA 2003 will take place June 3-5 at the new David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. The meeting and exhibit space are more aesthetically appealing both acoustically and architecturally. The center overall sports a more modern look with views that encompass the river and the new ballpark across the way. State-of-the art audio-video systems will allow speakers and delegates to interact in a progressive fashion during the technical sessions and luncheons.

The exhibition will be the largest since Longwall USA 1998. More than 70 exhibitors will use approximately 40,000 square feet to display equipment and services. The exhibit opens on Tuesday (June 3) and closes with a reception on the floor. It’s also open all day Wednesday (June 4) and Thursday morning (June 5).

The technical program is broken into five sessions that include technology, productivity, health and safety, development, and face design. In each session three or four experts in the field of longwall mining will make presentations on critical areas of the mining process. In addition to the general sessions, the technical program also includes a workshop and two luncheons.

What would a conference be without social activities? The Green Oaks Country Club will host the Longwall USA 2003 golf outing, which tees off at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, June 2. A block of baseball tickets have been reserved for a Pirates night game at PNC Park on Wednesday, June 4.


What sets Longwall USA apart from other exhibitions is a technical program dedicated to improving longwall mining techniques. The program this year has five tracks. And, as evidenced by the first presentation of the first session, a session dedicated to technology, speakers come from abroad to participate in this symposium.

In a paper titled, “The Use of Face Automation at the Glennies Creek Colliery,” Peter Ross describes how this longwall mine from New South Wales, Australia, considered a shearing machine that was capable of negotiating seam undulations and variations. The mine’s criteria highlighted the need for automation of the longwall shearer in minimizing horizon control issues.

Jim Bryja and the team at RAG’s Eastern Operations follow with a presentation, “Two Meter Shields: From Vision to Reality.” In the paper, they outline the processes involved in taking the 2-meter shield concept from the drawing board to reality at the Cumberland mine (See the Cover Photo), including preliminary investigation; design and engineering; fabrication and testing; quality control and delivery; compatibility; and installation, operation, and recovery of the first panel.

Drummond Co.’s Shoal Creek mine operates the most robust longwall and David Boyle, the mine’s maintenance manager, will discuss, “Face Conveyor Systems: The Size Limitations and Considerations of Today and Tomorrow for U.S. Longwalls.”

He will address equipment evolution, specifically: drive systems (from simple to intelligent systems); line pan design (deck plate thickness and shearer haulage changes); chain and flight bars (design, materials, and size); use of high-grade material in problem-solving situations; shearer application challenges; and equipment costs vs. productivity improvements.

The Technology Session will close with, “Factors Affecting the Performance and Output of a Longwall Shearer,” presented by Ed Niederriter, director of longwall product development for Joy Mining Machinery. When planning to install a longwall, an operator should have a reasonable model of expected output from the face. He will address the critical elements of this model and the ability of the shearer. As the session concludes, delegates are invited to the Keynote luncheon.


The speech at the Longwall USA Keynote luncheon is a departure from past experiences, where ordinarily an executive would address coal markets. Joe Gallo, vice president, Quecreek Mining, will deliver a speech titled, “Quecreek Mine: Rescue of Nine.” Gallo is the mine engineer at Quecreek, the mine that suffered the inundation last summer. He gave a similar speech at Coal Prep and its was well-received. Coal Age had also invited U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to speak at the event and he had accepted tentatively prior to the war in Iraq. He canceled subsequently with respect.

The Keynote luncheon always attracts a large crowd. It’s during this event that Coal Age awards the nation’s best longwalls with the Longwall USA Top Performers Award. Three awards are given based on seam height to the mines with the best safety record and production performance. The awards consists of a bronze medallion, crafted by mining sculptor Gary Prazen, mounted on a walnut plaque.

The technical sessions resume Tuesday afternoon with a session on productivity. To properly assess productivity, one must ascertain reasonable benchmarks. In his presentation, “Be Careful What You Measure!” Robert L. Evans, senior vice president for Norwest Corp., will talk about how key longwall mining performance measures are compared on an international basis.

To keep these longwalls safe and productive, the mines not only need qualified operators, they need training. Jared Baer from 5DT will offer a glimpse of a system in a presentation titled, “Longwall Training Using Virtual Reality,” where longwall simulators are used to train miners using a head-mounted display.

Probably the most important issue facing longwall operators in the eastern United States is thinning reserves. In southern West Virginia, Speed Mining is using a longwall to extract coal from a thin seam. In a preview of what might be the future for high-production underground coal in Appalachia, the mine’s manager, Pete Hendricks, will close out the productivity session with a presentation on the “Success of the Kline Longwall.”

After the productivity session concludes, Chris Mark, a leading ground control specialist with the National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH), will offer another of his highly successful Ground Control Workshops. He will include an update of longwall support design and maintenance technologies and a demonstration of the NIOSH software package, Shield Hydraulic Inspection and Evaluation of Leg Data (SHIELD).


Wednesday morning the technical session opens with a session dedicated to health and safety. In a presentation titled, “Safety as a Value,” Richard D. Pick, president and CEO of Canyon Fuels, will explain how they, as a company, always refer to safety as part of the shared values that define the culture of their organization. They believe that zero injuries is a realistic goal.

As the coal industry continues to tackle different safety concerns, more attention has been focused on noise and hearing-loss prevention. Joy Mining Machinery’s Dan Armour will lend perspectives with a discussion, “Technical Controls to Prevent Hearing Loss in Longwall Machinery Operators.” It will cover what engineering controls can and cannot do to prevent hearing loss. Accurate information is invaluable in understanding the cause of hearing loss. He will also discuss noise measurement in an underground environment, which can be very difficult.

Bruce Robertson, chief mining engineer-underground for Anglo Coal Australia will give a paper on “Gas Drainage Issues for Australian Longwall Mines.” In the presentation, he describes the requirements for gas drainage in Australian longwall mines, the technology in use and under development, and the management issues arising.

Closing out the morning session with his presentation, “Longwall Tailgates: The Technology for Roof Support has Improved, but Optimization is Still Not There,” Tom Barczak, a leading (and sometimes controversial) longwall specialist from NIOSH’s Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, will debate alternative roof support in the tailgates. At the close of the session, delegates are invited to attend a luncheon hosted by the Pittsburgh section of the Society of Mining Engineers (SME).


For years, Longwall USA, Coal Age, and the Pittsburgh Section of SME, have had a close relationship. Traditionally during the second day of the Longwall USA, the group hosts a luncheon with a high-profile speaker. This year, they have outdone themselves by getting one of the highest profile coal executives in the Pittsburgh area, Pete Lilly, the newly appointed COO for CONSOL Energy. Lilly will talk about the future of longwall mining from a CONSOL perspective. Of the 52 longwalls mining coal in the United States, CONSOL operates 12.

Following the SME Luncheon, the technical program opens with a session on development. Bruce Bancroft, CONSOL Energy, and Chris Fromme, National Robotics Engineering Consortium, lead with a paper titled, “Belt Vision System for Monitoring Mechanical Splices.” They have developed a system that captures images of mechanical splices on moving belts and sends them to a computer on the surface.

In a presentation titled, “Auxiliary Haulage – A Comparison of Battery Vehicles vs. Continuous Haulage,” Dale Birchfield, president of Kingston Resources, and Randy McMillion, Riverton Coal’s vice president, evaluate the advantages, application issues, and incremental benefits.

Terry Thomas, Joy Mining Machinery’s haulage development engineer, in “Rapid Gate Road Development for Longwall,” addresses the issue of increasing the development rate for 3- or 4-entry longwall panels using the 4FCT Flexible Conveyor Train.

In a presentation titled, “Creating the Next Bottleneck: A Case History of McElroy mine 1987 to 2001,” Randall S. DeBolt, manager-continuous miner productivity for CONSOL Energy, offers a study that will cover the period from July 1987, when McElroy was reopened after 33 months of idle time, through 2001. The mine was a 1.5 million-ton-per-year (tpy) operation when it closed in 1984 and progressed to be one of the premier single-face longwall mines in the world, producing more than 7 million tpy. He will detail a number of bottlenecks that were eliminated during this process, noting that once one bottleneck is solved, another is created.

Thursday, the final day of the show, has a session dedicated to face design. The session begins with a paper titled, “Analysis of Longwall Face Roof Activity Using Shield Leg Pressure,” by Jinsheng Chen, Ph.D., senior engineer, planning, and engineering group for RAG American Coal Holding Inc., and Syd S. Peng, Ph.D., chairman, Department of Mining Engineering, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, West Virginia University. The presenters attempt to analyze and map the roof activity (i.e., parameters related to first roof weighting and periodic roof weightings, and roof loading profiles from longwall headgate to tailgate entries) above a typical longwall panel in the Pittsburgh seam using shield leg pressure data.

The demands on modern shields have increased with greater support forces, larger face lengths, and higher shearer tramming speeds. Peter Migenda, senior engineer for Deutsche Montan Technology, discuss hydraulic design concepts for shields in a presentation titled, “Planning Shield Hydraulic Systems for High Performance Longwalls.”

In his paper, “Partial-Web Cutting: Procedures and Benefits,” Michael A. Berdine, supervisor-engineering for RAG’s Twentymile Coal Co., explains how the mine used partial-web cutting to improve safety, production, and maintenance on a high-production longwall face.

The final paper, “Automation of Thin Seam Long Wall Faces in China,” written by Liu Dong Cai, chief engineer, Tiefa Coal Bureau and presented by Syd Peng, explains how Tiefa installed a state-of-the-art, fully automated longwall system. The successes of the first operation resulted in the decision to extend the system to other Chinese coalfields and for Tiefa to purchase a second installation. Cai will be available for questions via an interpreter.

This year, Longwall USA will truly be the best three days dedicated to underground coal mining. For more information, visit

Longwall USA Exhibitor List


Executive Committee

Chairman: John Murphy, University of Pittsburgh Mike Adamczyk, Joy Mining Machinery Nelson Addair, Longwall Associates David Chirdon, Mine Safety and Health Administration Klaus-Dieter Beck, RAG American Coal Co. George Bockosh, NIOSH’s Pittsburgh Research Laboratory Mike Graham, Joy Mining Machinery Robert L. Evans, Norwest Corp. Jim Faunda, American Coal Co. George Fesak, Mine Safety and Health Administration Randy Fizer, Arch Coal’s West Elk mine Harry Martin, DBT America Syd Peng, West Virginia University Bill Reid, Int’l Longwall Consultants Rick Steenberg, FMC-Westvaco Bill Tate, DBT America John Zachwieja, CONSOL Energy Conference Manager: Steve Fiscor, Coal Age


Technical Program

Monday (June 2, 2003)

Longwall USA Open: Green Oaks Country Club (1:00 p.m. Tee Off)

Tuesday (June 3, 2003)

Session I: Technology (9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.)

The Use of Face Automation at the Glennies Creek Colliery By: Peter Ross, Glennies Creek Colliery

Two Meter Shields: From Vision to Reality By: James J. Bryja, Senior Vice President-Eastern Operations, RAG American Coal Holding; Douglas R. Conklin, General Manager, RAG Emerald Resources; Robert L. Robinson, Longwall Manager, RAG Cumberland Resources; Keith O’Neil, Vice President-Shields, DBT America

Face Conveyor Systems: The Size Limitations and Considerations of Today and Tomorrow for U.S. Longwalls By: David Boyle, Maintenance Manager of Drummond Co.’s Shoal Creek mine

Factors Affecting the Performance and Output of a Longwall Shearer By: Ed Niederriter, Director of Longwall Product Development, Joy Mining Machinery

Keynote Luncheon and Longwall USA Top Performer Awards (12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.)

Keynote: Quecreek Mine: Rescue of Nine By: Joseph Gallo, Vice President, Quecreek Mining

Session II: Productivity (2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.)

Be Careful What You Measure! By: Robert L. Evans, Sr. Vice President, Norwest Corp.

Longwall Training Using Virtual Reality By: Jared Baer of 5DT

Success of the Kline Longwall By: Pete Hendricks of Speed Mining

Ground Control Workshop (3:45 p.m.-5:15 p.m.) By: Chris Mark, NIOSH

Exhibit Floor Reception (5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.)

Wednesday (June 4, 2003)

Session III: Health & Safety (9:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.)

Safety as a Value By: Ray T. Bridge, Safety Manager, Dugout Canyon mine; Reid W. Olsen, General Manager, Dugout Canyon mine; and Richard D. Pick, President and CEO, Canyon Fuel Co.; Presenter: Richard D. Pick

Technical Controls to Prevent Hearing Loss in Longwall Machinery Operators By: Dan Armour of Joy Mining Machinery

Gas Drainage Issues for Australian Longwall Mines By: Bruce Robertson, Chief Mining Engineer-Underground, Anglo Coal Australia Pty. Ltd.

Longwall Tail Gates: The Technology for Roof Support Has Improved But Optimization Is Still Not There. By: Thomas M. Barczak, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, NIOSH

SME Luncheon (12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.)

The Future of Longwall Mining Pete Lilly, COO, CONSOL Energy

Session IV: Development (2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.)

Belt Vision System for Monitoring Mechanical Splices By: Bruce A. Bancroft, CONSOL Energy; and Chris Fromme, NREC

Auxiliary Haulage – A Comparison of Battery Vehicles vs. Continuous Haulage By: Dale Birchfield, President Kingston Resources; and Randy McMillion, Vice President, Riverton Coal

Rapid Gate Road Development for Longwall By: Terry Thomas, Haulage Development Engineer – Joy Mining Machinery

Creating the Next Bottleneck: A Case History of McElroy Mine 1987 to 2001 By: Randall S. DeBolt, Manager-Continuous Miner Productivity, CNX Coal Operations, CONSOL Energy

Longwall USA Night at PNC Park (7:05 p.m.)

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Red Sox

Thursday (June 5, 2003)

Session V: Face Design (9:00 a.m.-11:30a.m.)

Analysis of Longwall Face Roof Activity Using Shield Leg Pressure By: Jinsheng Chen, Ph.D., Senior Engineer, Planning and Engineering Group, RAG American Coal Holding Inc.; and Syd S. Peng, Ph.D., Chairman, Department of Mining Engineering, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, West Virginia University

Planning Shield Hydraulic Systems for High Performance Longwalls By: Peter Migenda, Senior Engineer, Deutsche Montan Technology

Partial Web Cutting: Procedures and Benefits By: Michael A. Berdine, Supervisor Engineering, RAG Twentymile Coal Co.

Automation of Thin Seam Longwall Faces in China By: Liu Dong Cai, Chief Engineer, Tiefa Coal Bureau; Presenter: Syd S. Peng, Ph.D., Chairman, Department of Mining Engineering, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, West Virginia University

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