Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Kingshott, M and Graham, M, Coal Age - A Longwall Look at Tomorrow, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 1998: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 1998, 343-351.


Longwall mining has been the dominant global coal mining method for decades. However, not until 1994 did longwall mining surpass continuous miner room and pillar extraction tonnage in the United States. This significant event, occurring in the most cost driven market in the world, confIrms the efficiency and effectiveness of longwall mining. Free market economics, with respect to energy coSts, is replacing government controlled energy policies, siege mentality and early 201bc entury isolationist policies. Coal, as an energy source, is challenged by competing fuels and technologies. The twin threat of price and environmental bias will continue to pressure the industry. Hopefully coal's abundance, reliability and low cost can off-set the eventual increase in compliance costs. A recent Coal Age globallongwall census indicated there are 1,712 fully mechanized Iongwalls operating in the 12 major underground coal producing countries and that the number of mechanized longwalls is increasing in China, Australia, South Africa and India. It is clear that longwall mining methods willl:;ontinue to produce coal safely, at low cost and in large volume.