Timber Supported System – Introduction

Wilhelm, George L.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 1
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
Timber support of mine openings continues to be an effective system for ground support, due to its avail¬ability, flexibility, and ease of installation. Timber support of mine openings as a primary method to support loose rock has been replaced to a large extent by rockbolting and by filling systems. How¬ever, the many designs of square-set timber and varia¬tions of crib and stull support that have been developed to suit many stope configurations have proven reliable over many years of application. Integrated in modern excavation and stoping methods, timber remains an im¬portant ground support material for today's mines. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF TIMBER SYSTEMS Timber, when used as a part of the total support system, is recognized for its unique support properties. More than a cover to prevent minor falls of ground, timber systems have been carefully designed to provide adequate support with sufficient compressive qualities to achieve a safe working environment in extremely diffi¬cult ground conditions. In some cases, a timber support method is designed to yield while retaining its protec¬tive support qualities. Little or no initial investment in equipment or plant is required for incorporating timber into the mining support system. Low cost cutoff saws and portable chain saws are sufficient equipment for effective use of dimen¬sioned (sawed) or round (stull) timber support. Until recently, small sawmills of various complexity were com¬mon at mine surface plants. Sawmills at the mine sites have generally been replaced by timber vendors' mills. Suppliers have been able to use efficient cutting and lumber handling methods to reduce the cost of mine timbers. Most suppliers will package dimensioned mine timber into bundles that are suitable for handling down mine shafts and on level conveyances. The principal disadvantage of timber as a support method is higher material cost and labor cost associated with its labor-intensive installation. Furthermore, stand¬ing timber reserves of mine quality wood are in short supply in some areas, and heavy competition exists for alternative uses of the timber supplies. Vendors are reluctant to supply large cross section dimension tim¬bers relatively free of defects. Some mine operations require 4.8-m (16-ft) lengths of firm timber over 0.09 m2 (144 sq in.) in section and these are difficult to obtain in large quantities. APPLICATION OF TIMBER FOR MINE SUPPORTS Timber used in mine support has been cut from many species of trees. A firm hardwood with physical properties similar to western Douglas fir has been pre¬ferred in the US. Other harder and softer woods, how¬ever, have been used when readily available or where the specific strength or crushing quality of the wood is a desired specification of the support system design. Hard¬ wood, commonly oak, has been used where maximum crushing resistance is required. Mahogany and fir are widely used for shaft guide timber. Normally, timber is used with its core axis parallel to the long axis of the timber dimension. However, in some cases, it is placed normal to its core in a "butt" log position, so as to provide maximum resistance to abrasion of the ore passage adjacent to the cut end of the block. By selective placement of timber block¬ing, controlled resistance to ground closure can be achieved which will prevent early failure of primary sup¬port members of the timber structure. Timber is widely used in modern mining operations as a construction member for chute-lip support. These designs are tailored to each operation to conform to the dimensions of the haulage equipment being used. As a construction material, wood requires none of the spe¬cial equipment necessary for placement of concrete or steel support. Placement of these alternate support ma¬terials requires carefully dimensioned and engineered excavation for their installation. Wood can be easily sawed to fit on location. The successful use of timber in heavy ground de¬pends on the careful and accurate placement of block¬ing and bracing to achieve the controlled yielding re¬sistance needed to support the mine opening. Similarly, frequency, size, and placement of top and bottom block¬ing stulls in flat-bedded deposits are carefully determined to provide adequate support at the mining face. Con¬trolled caving through failure of the stulls may be required as the scope retreats from the earlier mined-out sections. The support program must achieve both of these dimensionless qualities by specification of stull frequency and size. The utility of the square set-system of ground sup¬port and timber support is described in Chap. 2, re¬printed from US Bureau of Mines Information Circular 6691. Four examples of effective use of timber for support of stoping and other mine openings are pre¬sented in other chapters in this section. The Gilman mine's use of Mitchell slice stoping described in Chap. 3 is an early modification of the square-set mining system. This application proved reli¬able for heavy ground and overcame some of the dis¬advantages of conventional square-set timber. Chap. 4 describes the Burgin mine's use of timber with other reinforcement material. This combination of materials achieved high strength and control with yielding com¬ponent members necessary for heavy, squeezing ground. Chap. 5 describes the Bunker Hill mine's use of square¬set timber in a new configuration that provides an effi¬cient and safe support for stoping using small load¬haul-dump (LHD) mobile equipment. Chap. 6 describes some considerations in placing the widely used stull in bedded ore deposits. Finally, in Chap. 7, cost calcula¬tions for
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