Mining Publication: Pillar Design Issues for Underground Stone Mines
Underground stone mining represents an emerging sector for the U.S. mining industry. As this expansion takes mines under deeper cover and as more efficient mining methods are utilized, adequate stone pillar design methods will become more important. It is the purpose of this paper to examine current design practices and to discuss issues for safe mine layouts so that a rational first approach towards balancing the demands for increased production can be weighed against increased risk to worker safety from rib instabilities and pillar failures. Seventy-two stone mine pillar designs were examined. Pillars with width-to-height ratios below 1.5 and subjected to excessive stress levels appear more likely to fail. When width-to-height ratios fall below 1.0, defects in the pillars, such as through-going discontinuities, can have a significant influence on stability. Discontinuity persistence, dip, material properties, and orientation are important factors controlling pillar strength. The influence of discontinuity dip, a characteristic easily identified in the field, was examined so that its presence could be accounted for in developing generalized guidelines for pillar design.