Subsidence Over Room and Pillar Mining

Peng, Syd S. ; Centofanti, K. ; Luo, Yi ; Ma, W. M. ; Su, Daniel W. H. ; Zhong, W. L.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 11
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1992
8.1 INTRODUCTION Under room and pillar mining if the extraction ratio is low, (i.e., < 50%) a pillar can support the overburden without collapse and there will be no surface subsidence whatsoever. In other words, if the pillar sizes are properly determined to support the overburden weight, the roof strata cannot cave and there will be no surface subsidence, provided the entry width is small and properly reinforced so that a continuous roof fall leading to piping or the total collapse of the roof does not occur. Under the prevailing mining conditions in the US if only development mining is em¬ployed in room and pillar mining (i.e., no pillar extraction), the extraction ratio is usually less than 50% and generally no surface subsidence will occur. If pillar mining is employed, surface subsidence may occur, depending on the extraction ratio and the size of the remnant pillars (or stumps) left in the gob. The higher the extraction ratio, the smaller the stump pillars left behind in the gob. As the size of the stump pillars becomes smaller, the possibility of their support¬ing the roof without collapse is smaller. If all stumps are crushed completely, the roof will collapse and surface subsidence will occur. Again, whether surface subsidence occurs, it depends on whether the remaining stumps can support the overburden or not. Therefore, since the weight of the overburden which the stump pillars have to support is proportional to the mining depth, a fixed¬size stump pillar can support the overburden at a shallow depth, but will collapse under greater depths. In this context extraction ratio is not the only parameter for determining whether surface subsidence will occur. Furthermore, during pillar mining a pillar can be cut away in many ways to finally reach the same extraction ratio. Therefore, the safest way to determine whether or not sur¬face subsidence will occur in room and pillar mining is to compare the strength of all stump pillars in the panel of interest with the weight of the overburden that the pillars have to support. If they are too small to support the overburden, surface subsidence will occur. Under normal mining practices the characteristics of surface subsidence profiles vary with methods of mining. In the US there are two types of coal mining methods, i.e., longwall and room and pillar mining. Longwall mining is indisputably a total extraction method, but different percentages of coal recovery are achieved in room and pillar mining. Recovery is much higher for sections with pillar extraction than those without pillar extraction. For those without pillar extraction, coal recovery increases with increasing entry width or decreasing pillar size. For those with pillar extrac¬tion, the total coal recovery depends on the amount of coal ex¬tracted from each pillar which is in turn dependent on the roof conditions and methods of pillar extraction. Bauer and Hunt (1981) analyzed the characteristics of the subsidence profiles due to the three types of mining methods in Illinois. Fig. 8.1 shows the range of locations associated with the following profile features: profile edge, maximum tensile curvature, maximum slope, maxi¬mum compressive curvature, and maximum subsidence. The scat¬ter of the data increases with decreasing percentages of extraction. The profile is much sharper for longwall mining and becomes milder as percentage of extraction decreases; for longwall mining the profile edge is always beyond the opening, while in room and pillar mining it may fall within. The location of maximum tensile strain moves outward, while that of the maximum compressive strain moves inward as the percentage of extraction decreases and the maximum subsidence decreases with decreasing extraction ra¬tio. The general concepts discussed in this chapter may not apply to the entry development sections between two longwall panels where roof caving in both panels are very severe and overlap each other. Consequently, it must be treated differently. 8.2 CASE STUDIES Kohli et al. (1982) described several case studies on surface subsidence due to room and pillar mining with pillar extraction. In one case, the seam was 6 ft thick and ranged from 650 to 800 ft deep. The panel was 720 ft wide (Fig. 8.2) and was developed with seven entries. Each entry was 18 ft wide and the pillars were driven at 88 ft center-to-center between entries and crosscuts. Dur¬ing retreating, two additional pillars (pillars J and K) were devel¬oped, two blocks ahead of the pillar line, to take the barrier pillar, 160 ft wide, between panel No. I and No. 2. Pillar extraction began by taking a central slice across the whole panel, beginning from pillar 0 through J. After that, each pillar was sliced by 6 wing-slices, 3 on each side, leaving 4 stumps, 2 on each side. One of each pair was triangular shaped approximately 6 ft wide by 26 ft long. The other was trapezoidal, 26 ft long by 16 ft and 10 ft wide at the upper and lower bases, respectively. This resulted in a total extraction ratio of 85% within the panel. Obviously the stump pillars were not large enough to support the overburden and col¬lapsed completely. The final subsidence profiles were rather smooth, just like those under total extraction (Fig. 8.3). The max¬imum subsidence on Lines A and B was about 3 ft for an average mining height of 6 ft, but the locations of the maximum subsidence were skewed toward panel No. 1. Along Line D, the central por¬tion was flat-bottomed, but the maximum subsidence was only 2 ft, mainly because Line D was only two blocks from the right-side edge. Notice in every profile there was heaving of as much as 0.3 ft, beyond the edges above the solid coal. In another case (Fig. 8.4), the seam was 6 ft thick under 650 to 850 ft cover. Three panels, 710, 400, and 350 ft wide, respec¬tively, were extracted side by side. The entries were 18 ft wide and the pillars at 88 ft center-to-center between entries and crosscuts. Pillar extraction was practiced the same way as described previ¬ously. According to the mine maps, there was no barrier pillar left between the adjacent panels. Thus after extraction the three panels formed a common gob of more than 1460 ft wide. This was re¬flected in the development of the subsidence profile along the county road. After Panel No. I was mined, the maximum subsi¬dence of 1.2 ft occurred at Monument No. 1. This was increased to 1.6 ft after the extraction of Panel No. 2 and went to a further 1.8 ft after the extraction of Panel No. 3. The final maximum subsidence of 4.3 ft occurred at Monuments No. 6 through No. 8, while the remaining portion of the county road showed rebound. However it must be noted that the subsidence profiles were rather bumpy and fluctuated, perhaps an indication of the irregular stump pillars that were left and crushed at various time after mining. Moebs (1982) surveyed the subsidence profiles of four room
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