Roof Depressurization for Total Extraction Mining Trials Collie Basin, Western Australia

Humphreys D, ; Hebblewhite B,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
An experimental mining project has been carried out in the Collie Basin to demonstrate the safe operation of total extraction mining techniques in the underground mines of the basin. To achieve this, it was necessary to design and install a means of controlling or removing groundwater so that goafing of the overlying strata could be safely achieved as part of the mining operation. The site chosen for the experiment was a triangular panel adjacent to Western No 6 (WD6) underground mine, which includes the 3 to 4 m thick Wyvern Seam beneath 130 to 180 m of overburden. The test area abuts a major fault on the downdip side. The overburden and underburden sequences include several horizons of permeable sandstones which form major aquifers. Water problems have long been recognized in all underground mines in the Collie Basin, and have previously prevented the successful application of total extraction mining. Following extensive hydrological investigations, dewatering and depressurization systems were designed to dewater the immediate roof aquifers and to depressurize aquifers higher in the sequence and in the floor. This would enable stable roof conditions to develop and controlled goafing to be achieved. The roof dewatering/depressurization procedure involved a combination of in-mine vertical roof drainage holes and conventional dewatering bores constructed from the ground surface above the mining trial area. The dewatering system was installed and operated for 29 months before the commencement of mining. Mining was eventually successfully completed in two trial panels using a retreat Wongawilli extraction system using bridge conveyors and continuous miners. Water inflow into the mine workings was channelled to a constructed sump area at the lowermost corner of the panel and pumped to the surface via vertical sump bores. The dewatering and depressurization measures adopted were successful in permitting the first controlled and systematic total extraction recovery of coal from the Collie Basin. This trial mining exercise demonstrated the potential for increasing substantially the recovery of coal from the Collie Basin, where previously recovery rates of around 30 percent from underground mining were commonplace, using only bord and pillar methods.
Full Article Download:
(670 kb)