International Conference on Ground Control in Mining (ICGCM)
- Reflection on why and what we have achieved?
Syd S. Peng
I came to the U.S. for advanced study in 1965, after 4 years of work in underground coal mines in Taiwan, where I found there was a big gap between theory and practice. In 1974, I joined West Virginia University and began my coal mining research career. As I traveled to coal mines performing research in Appalachia, many practitioners did not know what ground control technology was available. Conversely many research results were not realistic as the practitioners found out from application experience. I also found that equipment played a key role in mine design, that most ground control products in use were developed by equipment manufacturers, and that any new products must be approved by regulatory bodies before being used in the mines. Therefore, in order to advance the state-of-the-art in ground control, a forum was urgently needed whereby researchers, practitioners (mine operators and consultants), equipment manufacturers, and government regulators could meet regularly and exchange information in a timely manner.
After having solicited support from SME, USBM, and US Rock Mechanics Symposium without success, I went alone to organize the First Conference on Ground Control in Mining (note the emphasis is in “Mining”)in the summer of 1981. The First and Second Conferences were so successful that US Rock Mechanics Symposium asked me to join them. As a result, the Third Conference was held jointly with the 24th US Rock Mechanics Symposium at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. The attendance from mine operators was so poor that I decided a separate conference dedicated to mining was the only way to go. We skipped 1984, as I sought input from the stakeholders. In 1985, I solicited USBM’s and MSHA’s supports, and they agreed to co-sponsor the 4th Conference. In 1989, West Virginia University hosted the 30th US Rock Mechanics Symposium and the 8th Conference was held in conjunction with it. As a result, ther was no separate proceedings for the 3rd and 8th conferences.
As the conference grew, there were many foreign participants from different parts of the world. I therefore changed the conference name to International Conference on Ground Control in Mining (ICGCM) in 1987, the 6th conference, to reflect the international nature of the conference.
All but three conferences in the past 25 years have been held in Morgantown. In 1992, we went to Australia for the 11th Conference hosted by the University of Wollongong, and in 1996 (the 15th conference), it was hosted by Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO. Thereafter, in response to popular requests, the Organizing Committee decided unanimously to stay in Morgantown, WV.
We have organized 28 ground control conferences plus three surface subsidence workshops. A total of 1,365 papers have been presented with more than 6,300 speakers and attendees from all mineral producing states in the US and 35 foreign countries*. It is truly an international forum.
During the past 25 years, we have boldly dealt with all kinds of subjects and promoted many innovative ideas related to mining, including legal, exploration, geology and surface and underground mining. We have introduced many new ground control technologies to the industry. Some of which have become industry standards today. It has truly become and is recognized as the best forum for introducing new ground control products.
Speakers and attendees in every conference include academia, consultants, government regulators, manufacturers, mine operators, researchers, and support service providers. There are many heated debates. One unique feature of the conference is that many stay for the technical session until the very end of the conference. It is truly the annual forum for exchange of information among those professionals - we have achieved what we set out to do!
In addition to information exchange, the conference also provides opportunity for commercial deals from product sales to company mergers/buyouts. Likewise, ground control engineers from individual mining companies plan and hold their special meetings in conjunction with the conferences.
The conference has also inspired several national ground control conferences in the world, e.g., Australia, China, and India.
I am proud to say that our conference proceedings is different from all other conferences in that I personally read every paper carefully, make comments, both technically and editorial, and interact with the authors to make it clean, uniform and above all, technically correct. In recent years, members of the Organizing Committee from NIOSH (Finfinger, Mark, and Tadolini) help review the papers.
I also firmly believe that our attendees get the best value out of their registration fee. Aside from quality papers, and well-known personalities in the field, the social events (i.e, reception, golfing, picnic and lunches) provide ample opportunity for friendship. In this respect, I am grateful for our loyal equipment manufacturers for sponsoring these events year after year.
I believe we have firmly established the role of ground control in mine design. Today, ground control is standard terminology in mining engineering. It has replaced the conventional reference to “Roof Control.” In my opinion, ground control not only covers roof, rib and floor controls, it also includes strata movement including failure between surface and coal seam. With this concept, the line of thought, when confronting a ground control problem, is wider and broader, resulting in more appropriate and lasting solutions.
In the past 28 years, we have elevated “ground control” to become, and duly recognized as, a major discipline in mining operations. However, there are still many challenges ahead. Problems related to basics remain in nearly all subject areas. Research combining theory and practice must continue in earnest to improve them. To this end, I have established the annual Syd S. Peng Ground Control in Mining Award with SME (Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Inc.) in 2005 to promote and encourage the continuing development of ground control technology in mining.
* Australia, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzgovina, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Swaziland, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe.