State-of-the-art in coal pillar design

Mark, C.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
By 1980, the US mining community had reached a broad consensus regarding coal pillar design. The pillar load could be estimated from tributary area theory, and the pillar strength could be estimated from empirical formulas and laboratory coal strength testing. Then the growth of longwall mining required new thinking. Recently, powerful design methods have emerged from analysis of large databases of real-world pillar successes and failures. These include the analysis of retreat mining pillar stability (ARMPS), the analysis of longwall pillar stability (ALPS), the Mark-Bieniawski rectan¬gular pillar strength formula and guidelines for preventing massive pillar collapses. Sophisticated numerical models have also helped transform the pillar design landscape. In the process, the understanding of pillar mechanics has been greatly enriched. A new paradigm identifies three categories of pillars according to the types of failure that are associated with them. These categories are slender pillars (w/h < 3.0), which are subject to sudden collapse; intermediate pillars, in which pillar squeezes seem to be the most common failure mode; and squat pillars (w/h > 10), which are dominated by entry failure (rib, roof or floor) and coal bumps.
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