Pillar Mining And Longwalling Below Massive Roof Strata: Geotechnical Issues And Two Case-Studies In Australia

Singh, Satyendra K.
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
If the extraction is beneath massive roof strata, the roof tends to 'bridge' across large spans without failing, the caving behaviour is complex and irregular. Understandably, these give rise to many geotechnical problems with safety implications and involving sometime huge direct and indirect costs. Only two important problems, 'feather-edging' in pillar mining and `severe periodic weighting' in longwalling, are discussed in this paper in the background of geomechanics investigations in Australia at Blue Mountain Colliery and in South Bulga Colliery respectively. `Feather edging'- a major source of injury and fatal accidents in Australia and South Africa in such situations, refers to a phenomenon where the roof, at the goat edge, falls as a thin wafer of rock often suddenly, over-riding conventional timber breakerlines. The results of the first comprehensive, monitored trial in an Australian pillar extraction coal mine, suggests how the roof falls into feather-edging caving (generally) because of multiple shear-planes (interpreted) and how it may be alleviated. Because of complex fracturing behaviour of massive roof strata, periodic weighting at a longwall face is certain to manifest itself as 'yielding supports', heavy conditions', rapid convergence and in the worst case, as a cause of face stoppage. After briefly discussing the programme of instrumentation (in a chain-pillar and over the would-be goal) and results, this paper attempts to improve mechanistic understanding of the related geotechnical issues associated with the weighting behaviour and aims at establishing a 'threshold' value of weighting severity index (suggesting intensity of periodic weighting) with an objective to optimise operational controls before mining through potential (future) weighting areas.
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