Seam Structure - An Important Criterion for Coal Pillar Design

Unrug, Kot F. v.
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2005
In spite of the extensive research and accumulated experience from mining operations, an appropriate pillar design remains an open issue. Due to the shrinking reserve base, present mining operations move to more challenging conditions. There are usually thinner seams and geologic conditions are often unfavorable. For instance, mine roof and floor are weak or deteriorate rapidly when exposed to moisture fluctuations in mine atmosphere. It is common that pillars of current operations are more- squat than several decades ago when the bulk of pillar research have been carried out in thicker seams. The methods of pillars calculations were developed regionally (in particular countries) to suit design needs for the most important seams, from which the majority of coal production was coming (e.g. Pittsburg or Pond Creek seams in the eastern of US). Most of the pillar formulae use similar approach by assigning weights (using constants) to the influence of coal (seam) strength and pillar widthheight ratio on its final strength. That mechanistic approach has sound theoretical base and good data supporting its validity. However, what seems to be missing is a qualification system of the mine conditions, which are outside of the data base or do not comply with the theoretical model applied in pillar strength formulae. This paper attempts to address that issue in two major categories, first when only a drill core data are available, and second during the mine development observations can be made directly on a coal seam. The composition of a coal seam is also addressed, (which often changes rapidly across the reserve), and discussed its influence on pillar's structural performance. In summary a set of practical design rules is presented.
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