Mining Publication: Computer Simulation of Ground Behaviour and Rock Bolt Interaction at Emerald Mine
A collaborative project between RAG Emerald Mine, NIOSH, and SCT Operations was conducted to investigate ground behaviour, reinforcement performance, and stress redistribution in a coal mine entry subjected to a severe horizontal stress concentration. Field measurements indicated that the stresses applied to the study site nearly doubled during longwall mining, resulting in roof deformations extending to a height of 4.8 m (16 ft) above the entry. This paper focuses on the computer simulation that was undertaken to provide more insight into the roof behaviour and rock bolt interaction during mining. The model's input rock properties were derived from extensive laboratory testing, and the model itself simulated a broad range of failure mechanisms. The effects of different bolt patterns on roadway behaviour were evaluated. Comparison between the model results and the field measurements indicated that that the model effectively simulated the critical elements of the actual roadway's behaviour. With the confidence gained, the model was used as a baseline for additional simulations that evaluated the expected performance of alternative roof support systems. The study will also provide a benchmark data set for future applications of numerical modelling to U.S. coal underground mining.