Hydraulic Fracturing Of Sandstone And Longwall Roof Control - Implementation And Evaluation

Su, D. W. H.
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2001
Following a roof fall in the B12 headgate of a CONSOL Pennsylvania Coal Company (CCPC) underground coal mine in February 1998, CONSOL R&D and Exploration initiated an underground roof geology reconnaissance program along the B13 and B14 developments to define potential roof instability areas and to recommend appropriate supplemental headgate support. This reconnaissance program revealed the presence of a thick, massive Pittsburgh sandstone channel overlying the B13 and B14 panels. Surface and underground core holes confirmed the close proximity and the very massive, nonlaminated nature of the sandstone. To mitigate anticipated adverse conditions at the B 13 and B 14 longwall faces due to delayed caving of the massive sandstone behind the shields, a task force consisting of Operations, Exploration, and R&D personnel was formed in May 1998. Several operational adjustments were made by mine management, including repairing damaged lemniscate links, maintaining immediate forward shield support, and implementing measures recommended by the task force intended to boost the shield set load density at the face. After reviewing available geotcchnical information, the task force also recommended fracing of the massive sandstone over the B13 and B14 panels to enhance caving characteristics and further reduce the bending-induced stresses in the sandstone near the face. Horizontal fracs were created at a horizon about 25 feet above the Pittsburgh seam main bench over the two panels in June and November 1998, respectively. To evaluate the effect of sandstone fracing and operational adjustments on the bending-induced stresses in the sandstone, three finite element models were constructed and analyzed. Results from the finite element analyses indicate that one horizontal frac, 25 feet above the Pittsburgh seam, would reduce the bending-induced stresses in the sandstone by approximately 50 percent, maintaining them at a level below the ultimate strength of the sandstone. Operational adjustments to increase the support set load density and support stiffness could reduce the bending-induced stresses in the sandstone by a maximum of an additional 10 percent. Shield pressure monitoring at the B14 midface confirmed the presence of a lower roof pressure zone inby and outby the 1314 frac holes. This lower face pressure significantly contributed to improving the B13 and B14 longwall productivity and safety. The total production downtime due to bad top at the B 12 face within the interval of channel influence was 30,600 minutes compared to about 3,500 minutes each for the B13 and B14 faces. The average longwall advance per machine shift for the B13 and B14 faces within the channel was about 70 percent higher than that for the B 12 face.
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