Current South African Coal Pillar Research
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 1998
Over 206 million tons of hard coal were mined in South African collieries in 1996. Some 132.5 millions tons came from underground operations and approximately 120 million tons came from bord-and-pillar workings resulting in between 100 000 and 150 000pillars being formed. Coal pillar design remains a significant feature of South African mining. This paper reviews South African coal pillar design procedures in the light of 90 pillar collapses that have occurred since 1904. It shows that, while the current pillar strength formula is still valid within the original empirical range of Salamon1,cognisance must be taken of local conditions. Current South African coal pillar research is attempting to account for the variations in local conditions with the emphasis on the effect of discontinuities and pillar deterioration. It is suggested that a more holistic approach to pillar design be adopted to include a design methodology that examines the stability of the roof, pillar and floor of the underground workings. Using this approach, deviations from the empirical database used by Salamon and Munro will be incorporated into the design methodology resulting in more stable underground workings.