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Mining Project: Durable Support for Western U.S. Underground Metal Mines

Principal Investigator
  • Lewis Martin, NIOSH OMSHR, 509-354-8077
Start Date5/1/2015

To reduce injuries and fatalities in western U.S. underground metal mines by reducing the falls of ground in these mines.

Topic Area

Research Summary

This pilot project seeks to investigate ground fall accidents in underground metal mines in the western U.S. Falls of ground in mines continue to be one of the most serious causes of injury to miners. These ground fall accidents are directly related to falls of ground that can be measured using the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) database of Non-Fatal Days Lost (NFDL) and No Days Lost (NDL). Weak blocky ground, faults, seismic activity, and highly stressed ground are just some of the cases that lead to difficult ground control conditions. These concerns are addressed by taking a holistic look at ground support through the mining cycle at mines suffering from these hazards.

This project research will seek to improve ground support by using a systematic design approach to reduce accident risk, employing state-of-the-art ground control science in a targeted program of case studies to develop engineering solutions for the ground control hazards in western underground metal mines. This research will be conducted in western underground metal mines with difficult-to-mine ore bodies that are weak, blocky, highly fractured, and faulted, with altered host rock, which creates extremely weak ground conditions requiring extensive ground support where the mining method is primarily underhand cut-and-fill. All of these difficult mining conditions lead to increased ground failures that are directly related to higher NFDL and NDL injuries.

The engineering gleaned from these case studies will be transferred to other mines in the west. The research conducted within the scope of this pilot project will support the development of a full project proposal.