Mining Publication: Technology for Remote Mine Seal Construction
Mine fires can be especially perilous because toxic products can quickly spread well beyond the fire zone thereby exposing all underground miners to dangerous and deadly conditions. Since November 1998, there have been six major underground coal mine fires or explosions in the United States (Willow Creek (twice), Sanbom Creek, Loveridge No. 22, West Elk and the Jim Walter Resources No. 5 Mine). In each case, the entire mine or specific areas of the mine had to be sealed due to the build-up of dangerous gases and the fear of uncontrolled spread of the fire. Effective placement of mine seals can deprive a mine fire of oxygen and is often followed by water flooding or injection of inert gas into the affected area. When access to the fire zone is impossible because of safety reasons, airtight mine seals can be constructed, in the area of the fire, remotely from the surface through vertical boreholes. Remotely constructed mine seals are commonly made from cementitious material. Since these mine seals are typically erected blindly, it is difficult to determine if mine roof-to-floor and rib-to-rib closure has been obtained. This paper provides a review of the available materials and technology used to remotely construct mine seals through vertical boreholes.