A Case Study of Methane Gas Migration Through Sealed Mine Gob Into Active Mine Workings

Garcia, Fred ; McCall, Frank E. ; Trevits, Michael A.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1995
The U.S. Bureau of Mines investigated the influence of atmospheric pressure changes on methane gas migration through mine seals at a mine site located in the Pittsburgh Coalbed. The mine gained access to a coal reserve through part of an abandoned mine and constructed nine seals to isolate the extensive old workings from the active mine area. Underground problems were experienced when atmospheric pressure fell, causing methane gas to migrate around the seals and into the active workings. During mining operations, methane gas levels exceeded legal limits and coal production was halted until the ventilation system could be improved. When mining resumed with increased air flow, methane gas concentrations occasionally exceeded the legal limits and production had to be halted until the methane level fell within the mandated limit. To assist the ventilation system, a pressure relief borehole located in the abandoned workings near the mine seals was proposed. Preliminary estimates by a gob gas simulator (computer model) suggested that a 0.76 m (2.5 ft) diameter pressure relief borehole with an exhaust fan would be necessary to remove enough methane from the abandoned area so that the ventilation system could dilute the gas in the active workings. However, by monitoring methane gas emissions and seal pressure, during periods of low atmospheric pressure, the amount of methane gas that migrated into the active mine workings was calculated. Researchers then determined that a relief borehole, 20.3 cm (8-in) with an exhaust fan could remove at least twice the maximum measured volume of migrating methane gas. Because gas concentrations in the abandoned workings could potentially reach explosive limits, it was proposed that the mine eliminate the exhaust fan. Installation of the recommended borehole and enlarging two other ventilation boreholes located in the abandoned area reduced methane gas leakage through the seals by at least 63%.
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