Mining Publication: Utilizing the 'Advance and Relieve' Method to Reduce Horizontal Stress Affects on the Mine Roof, A Case Study
A room and pillar coal operation in central Pennsylvania was experiencing roof cutters and long running roof falls caused by high horizontal stresses. The roof conditions created hazards for the miners, and caused several production panels to be abandoned prematurely. The mine requested assistance from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in applying the "advance and relieve" mining to reduce the affects of the horizontal stress during panel development. The "advance and relieve" plan that was developed called for removing a pillar on one side of the panel as it was being advanced, thus creating a cave. The caving then relieved a portion of the horizontal stress across the panel. Because the horizontal stress direction is key to the success of this method, stress mapping as well as mining experience was used to establish the direction of the horizontal stress. Subsequent field measurements provided an estimate of the stress magnitude. Three panels were mined using this technique, and good roof conditions were achieved in all these panels. Instrumentation was used to monitor the stress changes in the roof created by the cave. Stress relief of over 1,000 psi was measured 120 ft from the cave and to depths of 20 ft into the roof. The lateral extent of the stress relief zone across the panels appears to be about 400 to 500 ft. This case history has provided much insight into the practical application of the "advance and relieve" method discussed in this paper.