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|The data base of failed pillar cases as used by Salamon and Munro (1967) in their original analysis to determine the strength of coal pillars empirically, has been updated for this study. It is shown that the Vaal Basin and Klip River coal fields exhibit similar behaviour that differs from the failures in other areas, i.e. failure at high safety factors within a short period of time. Those collapse cases have been omitted from the new data base. Failures in the other areas that occurred after 1967 have been added. Using a technique to minimize the area of overlap between the populations of safety factors of failed and intact pillar cases, the new data base was re-analysed in conjunction with the original Salamon-Munro data base of intact pillar cases, from which the cases in the areas of weak coal were likewise eliminated. It was found that a linear formula reduced the overlap area by22%. The new formula predicts higher strength for pillars with a width-to-height ratio greater than approximately 2.0 to 3.0 and a lower strength for smaller pillars. It was also found that in order to obtain the same relative measure of stability as with the Salamon-Munro formula, the strength constant in the new formula should be within a range of 2.8 to 3.5 MPa. For most current South African coal mining conditions, using the new formula for pillar strength will result in leaving smaller pillars without sacrificing stability. The reason for this is that the Salamon-Munro formula under-estimated the strength of larger pillars and over-estimated the strength of smaller pillars. The new formula will thus result in improved reserve utilization without sacrificing stability.|