Instrumentation and Monitoring For Pillar Extraction in a Deep, Faulted Uranium Mine
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Jan 1, 1984
A rock mechanics instrumentation and monitoring program was implemented during pillar extraction at Gulf Mineral Resources' Mt. Taylor Mine, the deepest uranium mine in the U.S. Three types of monitoring were employed: (1) drift convergence around stopes (using a portable tube extensometer), (2) stress changes in pillars (using vibrating wire stressmeters in horizontal boreholes), and (3) load changes in haulage ways under stopes (using vibrating wire load cells in jack stands). Results include convergence-time graphs, convergence contour maps, stress-time graphs, a stress increase contour map, load-time graphs, and abutment load limit maps. Major factors influencing results include (1) size of pillars around the extraction area, and (2) presence and orientation of a major fault adjacent to one extraction area. These factors, combined with pillar extraction, produced evidence of load transfer over 120 m from a stope measuring only 55 m x 45 m. Vertical stress increases of 7 to 17 MPa (1000 to 2500 psi) within 60 m of the stope were obtained using the stress- meter manufacturer's method. The fault apparently prevented load transfer in the down-dip direction but increased load transfer in the up-dip direction. Convergence rates of up to 1.3 cm/day (0.5 in/day) were measured at two stations. Instruments were generally reliable despite adverse underground conditions. The instrumentation and monitoring program at Mt. Taylor provided a warning system against ground control problems and a characterization of ground behavior for future development and extraction of pillars. Recommendations are made for future mining and instrumentation practices.