Ventilation hub at Penn State

SCORES of guests from all sectors of the mining industry will converge upon Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, for the 11th US/North American Mine Ventilation Symposium, being held over June 5-7, 2006.
Ventilation hub at Penn State Ventilation hub at Penn State Ventilation hub at Penn State Ventilation hub at Penn State Ventilation hub at Penn State

Pennsylvania State University.

Donna Schmidt

Published in the December 2005 American Longwall Magazine

The event is sponsored by Penn State and the Society for Mining Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) Underground Ventilation Committee.

Originally dubbed the United States Mine Ventilation Symposium, the event has been expanded over the years to encompass Canadian universities as well, and this year will be the second time PSU will serve as host (it is the only university to do so).

Co-chair Dr Jan Mutmansky spoke with American Longwall Magazine to share some of the history of the symposium as well as plans under way for 2006.

“The conference is held every two years, typically, and was initiated over 20 years ago. The conference was traditionally planned to be held at an American university that has some activity in the mine ventilation area in teaching and research,” said Mutmansky, adding that the first Canadian university to host was Queens University in 2002. The University of Alaska welcomed attendees in 2004.

Mutmansky said the university has received a very good response to its call for papers, abstracts of which were due in August. Final submitted papers were due December 1. There were notable trends in the papers received, he said.

“I’ve noticed some trends, although they’re not particularly quite what I was expecting,” Mutmansky said, as he detailed the two target areas he and the committee were seeking papers from: coal mine methane capture and utilization, and diesel topics for both underground and surface mines.

While many papers on those topics have been received, the committee was pleased with another topic that came through in force – mine fires.

“An area where a lot of abstracts have been submitted is the area of mine fires,” Mutmansky said.

“It is a very important topic because, of course, if you can prevent fires and explosions you’ve taken care of two of the biggest hazards that exist in mining.

“So we’re very happy to see papers in the mine fires and explosions area,” he said.

The preliminary schedule for the conference includes diverse topics of interest to industry professionals, including a discussion by Consol Energy chief Peter Lilly, who will speak on the topic of “Ventilation Health and Safety Issues in the Coal Industry” as well as US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representative Dina Kruger, who will be discussing the Methane to Markets Partnership.

Short sessions will also be held the weekend prior to the symposium, which will allow topics to be covered on a more detailed basis. Some of these include “Computer-Oriented Mine Ventilation Planning and Analysis”, a discussion organized by Keith Wallace of Mine Ventilation Services, and “State of the Art in Diesel Applications and Exhaust Control”, which will be headed by Edward Thimons of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Mutmansky noted that the conference typically breaks up into individual sessions that are organized by topic or type of mining. “We may have diesel topics in one session and maybe methane in another session. For example, [this year] we have some papers on computer analysis, some papers on ventilation in large openings, and we have a fair amount of papers on coal mine fires and explosions,” he said.

Once a topic is explored on the first day, it is often broken up into individual topics on subsequent days of the event.

In addition to the presentations, keynote speakers and discussions at the symposium, a handful of field trips are also on the schedule. A tour of the NIOSH/MSHA Bruceton Laboratories, organized by Jürgen Brune and Bob Haney, will include a tour of the ventilation-related laboratories at Bruceton with additional information provided on the NIOSH Lake Lynn research facilities.

In addition, there will be a Consol Energy Coalbed Methane Gathering and Processing Tour organized by Pramod Thakur, which may include a visit to a shaft boring site operated by Shaft Drillers International.

A longwall mining tour, limited to 7 participants, is also on the docket, comprising a visit to one of Foundation Coal’s operations in Greene County, Pennsylvania.

Mutmansky and the committee urge participants and guests of the 2006 events to keep up to date on the latest symposium news by visiting Also, watch International Longwall News, as it will also provide you with the latest on the event next summer.