Mining Publication: Overview of Ground Control Research for Underground Coal Mines in the United States
Underground coal mining continues to evolve in the U.S., and more reserves are being mined under deeper cover, with worse roof, or with interactions from previous workings. At the same time, the mining community is responding to higher safety standards and intense competitive pressures. The need for effective ground control design has never been greater. Ground control safety issues that have been addressed by recent the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) research include: Improving roof support performance; Maintaining safe tailgate escapeways from longwalls; Optimizing pillar design for retreat mining; Controlling multiple seam interactions; Predicting roof conditions during extended cuts, and; Preventing massive pillar collapses. As funding from both government and the private sector has diminished, the emphasis in research has focused on providing the mining community with practical techniques for improved ground control design. Many projects have successfully employed empirical methods that emphasize the statistical analysis of case histories from underground mines. Other projects have employed numerical models and large-scale laboratory testing of roof support elements. Using these data, NIOSH has developed an entire toolbox of computer programs that have been effectively transferred to the mining community.