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

NOTE: This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.
Principal Investigator
  • Lewis Martin, NIOSH, 509-354-8077
Start Date5/1/2015
End Date9/30/2016
Objective

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

The aim of this research was to control ground to protect miners from rock falls, collapses, etc. This pilot project sought 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 were addressed by taking a holistic look at ground support through the mining cycle at mines suffering from these hazards.

This project research sought 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 was 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 was transferred to other mines in the west. The research conducted within the scope of this pilot project supported the development of a full project proposal. The pilot project’s desired outcome of obtaining approval as a fully funded five-year project was obtained.

Related Publication

“Jackleg Drill Injuries” by CC Clark, DJ Benton, JB Seymour, and LA Martin, published in Mining Engineering Magazine (vol. 68, no. 8, pp. 57-62), and representing significant industry and academic interest in the pilot’s safe support installation research.


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