The Application of the Electrical Resistance Analogue to Mining Operations

Wilson, J. W. ; More-O&apos, ; Ferrall, R. C.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Unavailable
Discussion: M. D. G. Salamon* (Fellow): The theoretical principles behind the techniques of calculation used by the authors was formulated and published during the period 1962- 65. These principles, together with their practical implications, were summarized in a review paper in 1966.1 Now, in February, 1970, we have this long and comprehensive paper discussing the practical application of the theory. I think this is good progress. The large number of practical examples treated in the paper clearly demonstrates not only the skill and knowledge of the authors, but also the versatility of the techniques of analysis. I feel that the techniques described by the authors, and their improved versions, will revolutionize mine planning. I suggest that no shaft system or stoping layout should be planned in future without an adequate rock mechanics analysis. It seems that it will be progressively more difficult to white wash mistakes in rock mechanics and attribute their costly outcome to normal mining risk. We should not, however, become complacent. There is still a lot to learn and do in the future. I do not want to discuss tonight the question of further research but instead, I will raise two other problems which may hinder the future progress of practical rock mechanics. To carry out work similar to that described in the paper, mine managements require men who are capable of doing the work and who have the most efficient techniques of analysis at their disposal. As a research engineer I have been associated with the development of techniques of analysis. I can assure you that these have undergone an amazingly rapid development during the last six years. We have seen the change from the use of the electrolytic tank analogue and manual integration to the method described by the authors, that is, to the employment of the automatic network analogue and computer integration. But this is not the end. In a recent paper Prof R. P. Plewman2 and his co-authors described a completely digital technique. Here the process of calculating on- and off-reef quantities is integrated into one computer run. But these sophisticated methods of computation are useless without men to make intelligent use of them. During the last few years a new breed of mining engineers has appeared on the scene - the Rock Mechanics Engineer. I feel it is timely to call the attention of the senior members of this Institute to the fact that this new breed will succeed in carrying out its duties in a valuable manner only if we manage to attract to its ranks young engineers of the right quality. The requirements are high. The top rock mechanics engineers have to be good mine planners and they have to understand the essence of sophisticated theories. Without these attributes they will not succeed in the long term and the industry will not gain the benefit of available knowledge. To attract this quality of engineers the industry will have to ensure that rock mechanics is accepted by all concerned as a career which could lead to the top echelons of our profession. Finally, I would like to make one or two remarks concerning Part I of the paper. In Sections 3.1 and 3.2 the authors describe methods of determining the normal stress on the reef plane and the convergence distribution in the excavations. The description as given applies only to a horizontal reef. When the reef is inclined the situation is more complex since a shear component of stress on the intact reef and a ride component in the excavations must then also be determined. These can be calculated by methods similar to that described in the paper.3 The practical application of the method of calculating the released energy (Section 3.4) is in the comparison of various stoping layouts to establish an order of preference in terms of decreasing rates of energy release. To carry out these comparisons effectively, the calculations must be carried out in a manner by which the values of energy per unit area obtained are comparable. I would like to note in this respect that the method of calculation given in the paper is valid without reservation only if there is no elastic contact between the hanging and foot walls in the mined-out area. If there is contact then the calculated energy values are correct only if the mined out area is increased in small steps during the analysis. My second point in this regard is concerned with the practical method of calculation as described in Sections 3.4 (ii)-(iii). Firstly, I would like to suggest that the energy calculation should be carried out, as far as possible, by using always the same scale on the analogue. Secondly, the reading of current on a pin should be followed by the removal of that pin to obtain the corresponding reading of potential. The product of these two values will be proportional to the energy released during the mining of the small area corresponding to that pin. The method suggested by the authors tends to mask possible danger points in the layouts, since they obtain an average value for a time period, say, for six months.
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