Significant Weighting Events on the Longwalls in the Phalen Colliery
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Jan 1, 1997
The Cape Breton Development Corporation is a federally owned Crown corporation in Canada that operates two coal mines the Prince and Phalen Colliery in the Province of Nova Scotia. Retreat longwall mining was first introduced to the shallower workings (I 80m) of Prince Colliery in the early 1980's. Phalen Colliery started longwall retreating in 1987 and since that time has extracted twelve panels. In 1993 there had been a total of eight longwalls varying in widths from 140-230m mined in Phalen Colliery that is on the Phalen Seam. Up to this point there were only minor ground control problems on the faces except for one of the earlier longwalls that was mining a split seam. There is some interaction on Phalen workings from remnant structures in the overlying Lingan and No. 26 Collieries which worked the Harbour Seam. Induced abutments loads along pillar edges have been observed and resulted in poor face conditions when mining the Phalen Seam. The ninth panel, 6 East was the first panel to suffer a major roof fall from the First Major Weighting. This was also the first panel to undermine a paleo sandstone river channel named the Lower Sandstone Unit (LSU). For the first time in Phalen's history subsequent longwalls began to experience periodic weighting events. The 6 East panel suffered a number of periodic weightings and on two occasions had to use foam cement to fill the cavities that resulted. On the next east side panel, 7 East, there were numerous periodic weighting events, but interestingly there was no significant First Major Weighting. 7 East was the first 260m wide panel and all others were 230m or less. This longwall was 3,400m long and began producing in December of 1994 and was still cutting coal in May of 1997. There were five significant roof fall events on this panel, three of which required foam cement to fill the cavities. Of these three the interruption to production varied from four days to seven months. There were definite precursors to each of the weightings including: 1) an increase in audible noise (termed bumping) on the face, 2) supports went rapidly into yield, 3) roof convergence increased, 4) water percolated from the face roof strata, and 5) severe spalling of the coal occurred resulting in increased tip to face distance. Longwall face weightings are a result of geomechanical factors and cannot be avoided However, the loss of roof control is a different matter and highly subjective to operational procedures. The causes of weightings, their magnitude and impact on the mining at Phalen have been investigated. The following factors have been identified as relevant to these occurrences. 1. The influence of pillars in the overlying Harbour Seam workings. 2. Location of the LSU relative to the Phalen Seam. 3. Thickness of the LSU. 4. Pressure arch effect from the adjacent gobs. 5. Poor operational practices on the longwall including: a) slow rate of retreat; b) inadequate supply of pump pressure to the hydraulic supports; c) premature yielding of the yield valves; and d) poor face alignment practices. This paper will review the events that took place on the 7 East longwall and show that the Lower Sandstone Unit is the primary cause of the weightings. However, other factors contributed to the loss of roof control and the formation of the roof cavities.