Fugitive dust on longwalls has always been an issue of concern for production, safety and the health of workers in the underground coal mining industry globally. Longwall personnel can be exposed to harmful dust from multiple dust generation sources. With the increase in production created from the advancement in longwall equipment, dust loads have also increased and this has resulted in an increase in exposure levels to personnel. Control processes in place for the mitigation of dust vary from mine to mine, with each individual mine having a dust mitigation setup that is only effective for that particular mine operation. While the focus in the past has quite correctly been on improving the controls on dust exposure, the future lies in identifying the efficiency of installed controls on operating longwalls, evaluating them through robust and quantitative sampling methods to ensure the most effective controls are in place to prevent occupational disease from occurring.
This paper will examine the current controls for dust mitigation on longwalls and propose a new testing methodology to determine dust mitigation efficiency (DME) of installed controls for both respirable and inhalable dust. The main objective of this proposed sampling method is to identify dust loads at independent sources of dust generation in mg/tonne produced on longwall faces and quantify the efficiency of installed controls for the mitigation of produced dust on longwall faces.