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Face dust levels at deep-cut underground coal mines

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2011, Vol. 330, No. 1, pp. 397-407

Potts, J.D.; Reed, W.R.; Colinet, J.F.


 Dust surveys were conducted at six underground coal mines to determine if deep-cutting practices expose face workers to higher levels of respirable dust. The surveyed mines were able to successfully mine deep cuts without significantly increasing the dust exposures of face workers. In general, all of the selected mines exercised good dust control practices by maintaining water sprays, scrubber airflows, proper curtain setback distances and providing sufficient airflow to the active faces. For exhausting face ventilation, field data indicate that scrubber airflow is the most important factor for controlling dust. Data collected for this study indicate that 20-mesh screens should be cleaned for every 12.2 m (40 ft) of advance, because 22% of the deep cuts surveyed for this study experienced a 20% to 35% decrease in scrubber airflow over the course of the cut. For blowing face ventilation, field data and past research indicate that dust control is aided by maintaining a proper curtain-to-scrubber airflow ratio of 1.0 (measured before scrubber activation), as well as a curtain setback distance that allows the miner operator to stand at the mouth of the curtain for the entire cut. Dust levels on the bolting faces did not appear to be affected by the longer cycles associated with deep-cut mining when good ventilation practices were used.