November 2019
Volume 71    Issue 11

Overview of current U.S. longwall gateroad support practices: An update

Sears, M.M.; Esterhuizen, G.S.; Tulu, I.B.


In 2015, 40 longwall mines provided nearly 60 percent of U.S. underground coal production. During this time, about 80 percent of ground-fall-related fatalities occurred in areas where the mine roof was supported. In an attempt to better understand the status quo of current longwall support practices in the United States, during a period between 2010 and 2017, researchers from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) visited a sample of 25 longwall mines representing nearly 50 percent of the currently active longwall mines operating in all of the major U.S. longwall producing regions. The data presented here indicate that the types and amount of roof support being installed in modern U.S. longwall mines have reduced ground-fall accident and injury rates to levels never seen before. However, the complete elimination of unintended roof falls in U.S. longwall mines has remained elusive. The data in this paper can be used by mine operators and engineers to determine where their chosen type and density of roof support occur on the spectrum of observations contained in this database. Additionally, this data can be used to enhance, supplement and support additional research on longwall gateroad support systems. 

Full-text paper:
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration,


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