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|It has been noted in recent years that the pillars in some bord-and-pillar workings scale or spall. In due course this process may result in the collapse of the affected panels. This paper presents a methodology for assessing the long-term behaviour of such workings, employing a simple model of pillar deterioration by scaling. It is assumed that scaling causes a gradual reduction in pillar width, hence the safety factor of pillars reduces in time. It is also postulated that the process of scaling will be arrested if the coal rubble around the pillar reaches a critical height. The probability that the pillars will survive for a certain period of time, or indefinitely, can be estimated. This can be accomplished by using the log-normal distribution proposed by Salamon and Munro4todescribe the distribution of the apparent safety factor values at failure. If an estimate of the rate of scaling is known, it is also possible to quantify, using a Monte Carlo technique, the expected life of the pillars. The method also facilitates pillar design by specifying a probability of survival for a given number of years or, alternatively, for an indefinite period. Using the limited pool of available data, analyses show that the proposed model does not appear to be inconsistent with observed behaviour of pillars in the Vaal Basin. The crucial parameter is the rate of scaling. Back calculations from eleven cases suggest that the rate of spalling in the Vaal Basin is about 0.2 m/year. It is noteworthy that two further cases in the same area give significantly higher rates (0.85 m/year). Some underground observations in the Witbank area indicate considerably lower rates in the order of 0.02?0.04 m/year. Further areas for study are recommended. These include a study of old workings to determine the extent and rate of scaling in the various coal fields, an investigation into the possible relationship between scaling and the chemical composition of the coal. In addition, model studies will be required to assess the practical impact of the research findings.|