Premature Rock Bolt Failure Through Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

Hebblewhite, Bruce
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2003
An ACARP-funded industry research project in Australia recently investigated the problem of premature rock bolt failures in underground coal mines. The project carried out limited sampling from 9 different collieries in NSW and Queensland, followed by a more comprehensive, controlled sampling from one colliery. Over 50 broken bolts were collected and subjected to metallurgical analysis at UNSW to determine both the steel composition and to analyse the fracture surfaces. Prior to this study, there had been anecdotal evidence of similar bolt failures from a number of sites within the industry. The sampling and analysis conducted by this project - whilst being below a statistically representative sample of the entire industry bolt population - highlighted the fact that bolt failures were continuing to occur at a number of sites, in both older and recently installed bolts. The failures were almost entirely attributable to stress corrosion cracking (SCC). It appears that a combination of factors - including steel composition, bolt manufacturing process, loading environment, geological and hydrological environment, bacterial corrosion - can all contribute to this problem. There is no simple solution, however, as with similar research findings from the UK, it appears that steels with higher values of fracture toughness, or Charpy Index, are less susceptible to SCC. Testing to date has been limited to bolt failures below the resin encapsulation horizon. A real concern is the potential extent of the problem at higher horizons, within the encapsulation. These may require some form of non-destructive testing (NDT) for detection. Initial trials in Australia of the ultrasonic device developed by DMT in Germany have proved encouraging. Further testing using this device is anticipated in future research. This paper describes the outcomes of the project, completed in 2002.
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