In-Situ Investigation Into The Causes Of Falls Of Roof In South African Collieries

Merwe, J. Nielen van der
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 14
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2001
The main objective of the research described in the paper was to determine the causes of falls of roof in South African coal mines. The south African Colliery Manager's Association and the members of the South African National Institute of Rock Engineering (SANIRE) who are employed by coal mines lent full support to the work. Fifteen major roof falls were investigated in detail and their causes established. This data was supplemented by mapping a large number of roof falls on four coal mines in less detail. The total number of recorded roof falls was 182. The data bank simulated the data bank of roof falls that resulted in fatalities in terms of the total number of falls recorded and the thickness distribution of the collapses. It was found that the causes of the falls differed for different thickness ranges of roof falls, The thin falls, classified as "Skin falls", which accounted for approximately 70% of all fatalities, were predominantly caused by ineffective joint support and excessive bolt spacing. Ineffective joint support was found to be a dominant cause of roof falls for all thickness ranges, while the influence of excessive bolt spacing diminished with increasing fall thickness. However, it remained a significant cause of roof falls even for the major falls. Burnt coal, dykes, bad mining practice, weathering and inferior materials were found to be minor causes, but nonetheless contributed to the falls. Horizontal stress was a minor cause, with increasing contribution for thicker falls. It was also found that the indicators of horizontal stress coincided with areas of reduced roof rock strength. In general, roof falls occurred in areas where the roof rock was found to be less competent in terms of rock mass rating systems. It was concluded that the Coal Mine Roof Rating (CMRR) system developed by NIOSH in the USA held promise for application in South Africa and should be investigated further.
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