Pillar Design - Continuous Miner Butt Section And Longwall Development Sections
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Jan 1, 1984
The North American Coal Corporation, its subsidiaries and other coal companies, have been mining the Pittsburgh #8 seam in Eastern Ohio for several decades. Underground mining by the "room and pillar" method, and more recently by longwall methods, have been practiced. This presentation deals with ground control problems and subsequent solutions to those problems for both mining methods. But first, let me briefly discuss some pertinent points about the geologic conditions of the coal seam near the southwest edge of the Pittsburgh Coal Basin. The Eastern Ohio region of the Pittsburgh Coal Basin is situated along the western edge of the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. The local terrain is quite steep, with topographic relief of 430-500 feet being common. The coal thickness in the region ranges from 36"to 120", with the average being 60" in the areas being currently mined. Regional dip of the seam is toward the southeast in an amount of 10 to 40 feet per mile. A cross-section of the mineable seam generally consists of the main bench (60"), a rider coal (6"-12"), and a claystone parting (6"-12") for a total excavated height of 6-7 feet. Greater excavated height occurs where the fireclay floor is so soft and friable that movement of mechanical equipment breaks up the first 4-8 inches. Generally, the main bench and rider coal thin and become more variable toward the southwestern portion of the mining area. The rider coal also grades laterally into a coaly carbonaceous shale. In those areas where the roof coal can no longer be counted on to help support the immediate top, some of the main seam (6") is left to protect the overlying 8'-12' of mudstone/claystone strata. These strata are virtually non-bedded, highly slickensided units and are "hung in suspension" by roof bolts from a more competent limestone stratum above. These mudstone/claystone units are very susceptible to moisture and thus to the weathering cycles. The rider coal or 6" of the main bench is left in place to "seal" the mudstone/claystone units in Mains and Submains development. For many years, it was thought that the strength of the limestone member was detrimental in attempts to fully extract the seam by conventional means; however, longwall methods that have been more recently employed have broken the "myth" that the Redstone Limestone prevents full extraction of pillars.