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Mining Project: Ground Control Safety for Deep Vein Mines

Principal Investigator
  • Joseph B. Seymour, NIOSH OMSHR, 509-354-8019
Start Date4/1/2014

To establish a new standard for ground control safety in deep vein mines.

Topic Area

Research Summary

This project has three research aims, as follows:

  1. Quantify and assess the static and dynamic load capacity of ground support systems typically used in deep underground metal mines.
  2. Develop methods of controlling fault slip potential to limit the magnitude of mining-induced seismic events and thus reduce the dynamic loads applied to ground support elements.
  3. Modify support installation equipment and procedures to protect miners during the installation and rehabilitation of ground support.

Maintaining ground control safety while mining narrow veins in deep underground mines poses major technological challenges. The extreme stresses associated with mining at greater depths—often a mile beneath the surface—can lead to mining-induced seismic events that endanger the workforce and damage ground support, underground entries, and mining equipment.

In cooperation with the mine staff at a collaborating deep vein mine, state-of-the-art technology will be applied and innovative measures will be developed to significantly improve the ground control safety of underground miners. This overall objective will be achieved through completion of the following tasks: (1) monitor fault movement, stress distribution, ground support loading, entry deformation, and seismicity at a collaborating mine to identify fault slip mechanisms and ground control hazards; (2) conduct innovative tests to quantify and improve the performance characteristics of integrated ground support systems, particularly their energy-absorbing properties; (3) develop modeling techniques to analyze the behavior of ground support subjected to dynamic loading and to forecast fault slip seismicity for alternative mining strategies; (4) examine the equipment and procedures that are used to install ground support and document the safety enhancements achieved by modernizing equipment, reducing operator exposure to ground falls, and improving the ergonomic aspects of ground support tasks.