Stress And Stability In Coal Ribsides And Pillars

Wilson, A. H. PH.D
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 12
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1981
Compared to the rocks encountered in, say, metalliferous mining or tunnel drivage in igneous and metamorphic rocks, the strata associated with the coal measures are relatively soft. If excavations are made at depths greater than one or two hundred metres, zones of fractured or yielded rock develop around the openings. The stress which can be taken by yielded rock at the boundary of an opening is low, but because of the friction present between the fragments or particles, the sustainable stress rises rapidly with distance from the opening until sufficient confinement has been developed to prevent failure of the rock in the first place. Thereafter the laws of elasticity will apply and increasing distance will reduce the stress field until conditions consistent with the cover load are reached. For rocks which maintain their elastic condition right to the edge of an opening, finite element analysis and similar techniques have proved successful in determining the distribution of stress around the opening. This approach, however, is not successful when a yield zone is introduced between the elastic zone and the opening. Nevertheless, some estimate is required if help is to be given in the siting of roadways and in the determination of adequate pillar sizes. This matter is of particular importance in the planning of new mines especially if retreat faces are involved, as extensive roadway drivage must be planned and executed before experience of the effects of face extraction is gained. In 1977, the author published [I] a method based on 'stress balance'. The total aggregate downward load over a large area will remain that of the cover load even after part of the coal seam has been removed. Any rise in stress in ribsides and pillars must be offset by an equivalent stress reduction across roadways and other areas of extraction, and vice versa. Knowledge of one can lead to an estimate of the other, provided the general form of the stress distribution can be postulated. It is the object of this paper to revue the method in more detail and to give further examples of its successful application.
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