Room-and-Pillar Method of Open- Stope Mining - Production Methods of Noncoal Room-and-Pillar Mining

Bullock, Richard L.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 56
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
At the beginning of the previous chapter, variation in the types of room-and-pillar stopes were briefly identified so that the reader could begin to understand the extensive application of this mining system. These same variations will be reviewed and elaborated upon in this chapter while discussing the methods by which the material is extracted. FULL-FACE SLICING BY DRILLING AND BLASTING When the entire mineralized thickness is taken in one pass of mining, it is known as full-face slicing. There is no mineral of economic value intentionally left either in the floor or the back. Theoretically, there is no limit as to how high the face could be in a single pass. But there are practical limitations to equipment size, pillar stability, and control of local loose slabs on the face, roof, and pillars that dictate current practices. The range of face height of the 15 typical room- and-pillar mines covered in Table 8 (Sec. 1, Subsec. 7) from the Dravo report, 1974 was 1.7 m (5.5 ft) to 9.8 m (32.1 ft), the average being 5.2 m (17.1 ft). In the Gaspe copper mine, Murduchville, Que., the drill jumbos were constructed with an extendable tower for full-face mining up to 15.2 m (49.9 ft) if necessary. However, a more common practice at that mine is to take the ore in multiple slices (Hall, 1959). In many metal mines the normal practice when starting stoping is to drive a single development drift into the ore zone a distance that will allow at least four or five rooms to be opened on each side of the initial drift. Since this opening will probably serve as the main haulage drift, it should be kept as straight and as level as possible. As to the other criteria for the stope developments, it might be well at this point for the mine planner to review the remarks presented earlier (Sec. 1, Subsec. 7) on drifts, entries, and crosscuts for production. After the initial drift is driven, it should be slabbed to the full room width if it is not that wide already. Next, the future pillars should be marked on the ribs and the rooms driven between them. If the ore extends beyond the length of the initial drift and is to be mined in the normal sequence of mining, care should be taken in a random room-and-pillar system to see that the extension of the initial roadway remains straight. If pillar "spotting" is left to the shift foreman or to the miners, they probably will not realize the importance of maintaining a uniform pillar line next to the roadway, and of keeping the line straight. Invariably, a pillar will end up in the middle of the future drift extension resulting in a "dogleg" in a possible main haul- age road. While this error is not catastrophic, too much weaving in and out of pillars will certainly slow down future production haulage and needlessly increase costs. Face or Breast Drilling and Blasting Practices To drill and blast the initial advances into the rock, usually some form of cut pattern must be used. In room-and-pillar mining, when a pattern is drilled in a face and that face is the only exposed surface to which all of the rock must be broken, the pattern is known as a "face round" or "swing." The face to which the rock must be broken is referred to as a "free face." Thus the most common way to advance a room into virgin rock with only one free face is by drilling swings. If, after breaking around a pillar, taking down back, or taking up bottom, there is a second (or third) face exposed, a group of holes drilled nearly parallel to a free face and breaking to it is known as a "slab round" or "slabbing." In some mining districts it is also known as "slashing." Obviously, because two faces exposed offer less resistance to fragmentation than a single face, slabbing requires less drilling and fewer explosives than required to break the same tonnage with the same degree of fragmentation with swings. Therefore, it behooves the driller (or supervisor) to plan the combination of
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