A Linear Coal Pillar Strength Formula for South African Coal

van der Merwe, Nielen
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2002
The data base of failed pillar cases as used by Salamon and Munro (1967) in their original analysis to determine the strength of coal pillars empirically, has been updated for this study. It is shown that the Vaal Basin and Klip River coal fields exhibit similar behaviour, i.e. failure at high safety factors within a short period of time after their creation. Those collapse cases have been omitted from the new data base. New failures that occurred after 1967 have been added, except for those that occurred in the Vaal Basin and Klip River coal fields. (1967) a technique to minimise the area of overlap between the populations of failed and intact pillar cases, the new data base was re-analysed in conjunction with the original Salamon and Munro (1967) data base of intact pillar cases. It was found that a linear formula reduced the overlap area by 22%. The new formula predicts higher strength for pillars with a width-to-height ratio greater than approximately 2S and a lower strength for smaller pillars. For most current South African coal mining conditions, using the new formula for pillar strength will result in leaving smaller pillars without sacrificing stability. The reason for this is that the Salamon and Munro (1967) formula underestimated the strength of larger pillars and overestimated the strength of smaller pillars. The potential benefit for the South African coal mining industry amounts to saving reserves equal to the total production of two large mines per year.
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