The Shoemaker Mine was Named in Honor of G.A. “Al” Shoemaker, Retired President of Consolidation Coal Company Mr. Shoemaker was born in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1923 Following graduation he pursued an engineering career In 1945 he was elected vice president of one of Consol’s predecessor companies The following year he was elected vice president of the Pittsburgh Coal Company division of Consol, and later became president of that division.
Mr. Shoemaker was Elected Executive Vice President of Consol in 1952 and Became a Director in 1956. He was elected executive vice president of Consol in 1952 and became a director in 1956 He was very active in the Western Pennsylvania Coal Operator’s Association He has served as trustee of Pennsylvania State University Coal Operator’s Association and has served as trustee of Pennsylvania State University. He was also active in the American Mining and Metallurgical Engineers; the Pittsburgh Coal Mining Institute; and the Engineer’s Society of Western Pennsylvania.
Additional Information Mr. Shoemaker served as a Township Commissioner in his home community of Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania and was active in local civic, educational and business matters.
The Shoemaker Mine began Production on September 2, 1966 The first longwall was installed and began full production on April 21, 1975 Shoemaker was the first mine in the United States to use shield supports for longwall mining Shoemaker mine is located in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle just south of Wheeling, West Virginia The preparation plant, supply yard, warehouse and shop are located next to the Ohio River at Benwood The mine portal is located in rural Marshall County, approximately 7.5 miles from Elm Grove on Big Wheeling Creek.
The Early Years At this time the mine employed 404 people and produced 2.3 million tons of steam coal per year from the Pittsburgh No. 8 coal seam At start of production the seam was 65 inches thick, and with the draw slate removed during mining, entry height was just over 6 feet . The coal contained 12,4000 BTU’s per pound Most of the coal was and still is barged 200 miles down the Ohio River to an electric power generating plant
Coal Preparation Then and Now All of the coal produced is washed at the preparation plant Heavy media vessels accomplish this The coal is produced from longwall and continuous miner sections When Shoemaker mine began production the coal was transported on 42” and 48” belts Currently, the coal is transported on 54” and 60” belts from the face of the 54 mother belts The mother belts dumped the coal into mine cars, and these were hauled in 42 car trips approximately seven miles to the rotary dump at the preparation plant The mine had over nine miles of beltline and over 22 miles of track There is now over 11 miles of beltline.
Ventilation Six main fans, five exhausting, accomplished ventilation Over 1.2 million cubic feet of air was passed through the mine each minute The mine had eight shafts, one drift opening, and one slope In order to keep the mine from flooding, over 260,000 gallons of water per day were discharged and treated so that it was clean and safe to put into the streams That amounted to a little over 180 gallons per minute on a 24 - hour basis
Rail Cars - Beltline Shoemaker’s Main entrance, referred to as a pitmouth is a tunnel six-and-one-half foot high and twenty-two foot wide It goes under Route 2 and through Boggs Run Hill, sloping gradually upward before reaching the coal seam Loaded and empty coal cars used to travel through the tunnel on their way to and from the preparation plant Shoemaker Mine was the last coal mine in the United States to use this rail haulage system The dangerous rail cars have now been replaced with a $204 million belt project that is now in full production
Cost Comparison The cost of opening Shoemaker mine back in 1966 was quoted at ten million dollars At this time this was considered and extremely costly project The new belt project alone was twenty times more expensive even with factoring in inflation
Layout of the Mine Shoemaker currently consists of three main portals. The first and original portal is known as the river portal This is also known as the pitmouth, and this is where equipment is brought in and out of the mine The River portal is located in Benwood along the Ohio River Shoemaker Mine ships all of their coal by way of barge
The River Portal Consists of Two Major Entries, the Main Line Track, and a Refuse Belt The main line track must constantly be maintained, due to the fact this is where the seals are checked from, and most of the firebossing is done The refuse belt is a belt used to transport the rock and unwanted product extracted from the preparation plant to the refuse dump The coal we mine today, can be cut from the face, hauled out of the coal mine into the prep plant and loaded onto a barge all in one motion
Whittaker Portal The next portal going into the mine is Whittaker portal This portal was the main concern during our major belt project This is the location we rehabbed to connect the belts underground to prepare them to haul the coal from the sections and the longwall, up the new slope to the preparation plant and eventually onto a barge
Major Belt Project is Completed Now that the major belt project is completed, the majority of employees report to Golden Ridge Portal located in Dallas Pike, West Virginia This is currently where all the action is, right in the middle of our 8 North sections We are currently cutting 3b and 4b sections, in preparation for our next longwall move
Future Reserve Our longwall is approximately one hundred breaks fro the Golden Ridge portal The newest section Shoemaker mine is developing is the 8 south section This is located right on the bottom of Golden Ridge and is the future reserve of Shoemaker mine.
Seal Locations of the Mine There are many seals at Shoemaker mine; ten of these seal locations are considered a major problem Starting in from the pitmouth 1 North and 1 South were the first seals installed at our mine These are currently checked and monitored from the surface, by borehole
The 2 North Seal The next seal installed was the 2 North seal and it is walked and monitored from underground The 2 North seal, for the most part is always in compliance with gas levels
The 3 North Seal is One of the Major Problems of Shoemaker Mine It is monitored underground and is not an easy location to check When the barometer levels drop, this seal can have some dangerous gases behind it This particular seal was the first location we plan to pump nitrogen We plan on pumping nitrogen through a four inch wide plastic pipe dropped down fro a borehole The nitrogen can keep the levels in compliance more effectively when we start using it
Use of Nitrogen The next seal we plan to pump nitrogen to is the 4 North seal 3 South and 5 North are the next seals going into the mine We plan to pump nitrogen into these seals, but just as a precautionary measure These are monitored underground and are almost always at perfect levels for a seal
The 4 South Seal has Been a Major Problem at ShoemakerMine We have had to evacuate the mine three separate occasions in 2009 alone The 4 South seal is our main concern when we begin our nitrogen pumping process We plan to pump nitrogen directly into this seal by way of an existing borehole We believe this can cut the dangerous levels down drastically
The 4 South Seal was the Main Reason we are Considering Pumping the Nitrogen Even by cutting the evacuation number in half can save millions of dollars by avoiding these costly evacuations, and most importantly, keeping these levels safe for our mine The Federal Inspectors want to see action taken when dangerous levels occur, and this is a good precautionary measure to take
Our Final two Seal Locations are 6 North and 6 North Bleeder Seals In the history of our mine these two seals have not given us a problem We do not plan on pumping in to these locations, but we are prepared to if necessary
History of Issues With Seals Shoemaker mine has had an issue with seals, and evacuations. In the year 2009 we had a total of six mine evacuations These costly mine evacuations totaled sixty hours of total down time This is a very serious subject that must be addressed as soon as possible These deadly gases that accumulate in the seals are a miner’s worst nightmare
Not Only is it Unsafe it is One of the Most Mostly Situations that Can Occur Every evacuation that occurred at our mine was due to seals being out of compliance with gases We plan to cut back on these evacuations with the use of a nitrogen pumping system Each sampling pipe and approved sampling location shall be sampled at least every twenty-four hours Atmospheres with seals less than 120 psi constructed before October 20, 2008 shall be monitored for methane and oxygen concentrations and maintained inert
Seal Monitoring The mine operator may request for an approval for different sampling locations and frequencies in the ventilation plan, provided at least one sample is taken at each set of seals at least every seven days Mines with an approved ventilation plan addressing spontaneous combustion pursuant to part 75.334 (f), must sample the sealed atmosphere in accordance with the ventilation plan
Spontaneous Combustion is the Biggest Safety Hazard in Dealing with Dangerous Gases This is our number one concern in keeping these gases in range We strongly believe pumping nitrogen can reduce the risk of spontaneous combustion and other dangerous hazards Properly monitoring these seals is the most important thing, when installing these pumps Checks must be done thoroughly and correctly
There are mines that have abused monitoring their seals Federal Number 2 mine is temporarily shut down after state investigators discovered explosive materials in the mine The state has also launched an investigation into falsified documents at the mine
Safety Levels of Gases The District Manager of MSHA may approve in the ventilation plan the use of a continuous monitoring system in lieu of monitoring provisions in this section Except as provided in section 75.336 (d), the atmosphere in the sealed area is considered inert when the oxygen concentration is less than ten percent or the methane concentration is less than three percent, or greater than twenty percent When the gases are checked, and are out of this range all miners must evacuate immediately
Precautionary Measures At this time the only people that are allowed back in the mine are those responsible for correcting the problem There must also be a statement sent to MSHA, of the action taken to correct this problem When the problem has been corrected, and the gases are back in compliance, once again the entire mine must then be examined
Precautionary Measures cont. In a sealed area with a demonstrated history of carbon dioxide or sealed areas where inert gases have been injected, the mine foreman may request that the district manager approve in the ventilation plan an alternative method to determine if the sealed atmosphere is inert and when the miners have to be withdrawn The mine operator must also address in the ventilation plan the specific levels of methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen; the sampling methods and equipment used; and the methods used to evaluate these concentrations underground at the seal
Record keeping is another action that must be done The certified person shall promptly record each sampling result including the location of the sampling points, whether in gassing or out gassing, and oxygen and methane concentrations The results of oxygen and methane samples must be recorded as the percentage of oxygen and methane measured by the certified person, and any hazardous condition found in accordance with part 75.363 The mine must retain these sampling records for at least one year from the date of the sampling
False Records The state Office of Miner’s Health Safety and Training is investigating reports of falsified safety records after the incident, said Jama Jarrett the communications officer for OMHST Jarrett said her investigators found the methane buildup in the mine while investigating the records One mine foreman told investigators he entered a false mandatory safety check on January 24, 2010 despite not having performed the examination, Jarrett said
Investigation The Mine Safety and Health administration (MSHA) would not comment on the investigation The U.S. Attorney’s Office also refused to comment when calls where directed from MSHA United Mine Workers International Vice President and Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, said he is aware of the investigation- “It will be investigated and if that happened then those individuals deserve to be punished. But that investigation is ongoing and we’ll just have to see what the outcome of that is. But I’m certainly not going to feel sorry for anyone who puts the lives of coal miners in jeopardy by falsifying a document,” said Caputo.
Patriot Coal made no comment on the investigation into falsified documents A statement was released however, on February 22, 2010 about the status of Federal No. 2 mine It stated the mine has temporarily suspended active mining operations at Federal No. 2 after discovering potentially adverse atmospheric conditions Thursday, February 18, 2010 Patriot says it is currently conducting additional testing and is working with the US Department of Labor and MSHA to develop a plan to address the issue so that active mining operations can resume Patriot is unsure of when that will be
Costly Shut Down due to Danger Mine operators evacuated and shut down the Federal No. 2 Mine on February 12 and again on February 18, officials said On February 23rd the 400-500 miners who work at Federal No. 2 were still hearing a message from Patriot Coal telling them the mine is idle until further notice An explosive level of the mixture of methane and oxygen was found in at least one of the mine fills at Federal No.2, said officials at the Office of Miner’s Health, Safety and Training
Abused Monitoring There could be up to 90 fills in that mine, which are areas that have already been mined and are now sealed off and filled in as a safety precaution State regulations require those areas to be checked every 24 hours official stated Companies normally add nitrogen to eliminate the explosive mixture, but Patriot Coal officials have not said if that is what they will do in this situation, since they have already abused monitoring
Nitrogen can be Very Helpful to a Coal Mine But you must obey the monitoring laws Before workers are allowed back into the mine, operators must submit a re-entry plan to the Mine Safety and Health administration, officials said As of February 22, 2010, MSHA officials were meeting with the mine operator to discuss that plan
Sago Mine Disaster In regards to the Sago Mine, nothing has been confirmed as to what caused the explosion It is believed by experts in the field that combustible gasses were present the day of the disaster and have been present prior to this costly accident The proper use of nitrogen and more importantly accurate and precise monitoring could have saved many lives