Mining Publication: Controlling Roof Beam Failures From High Horizontal Stresses in Underground Stone Mines
The U.S., Australian, and United Kingdom coal and the Canadian hard rock mining industries have long recognized the significance of high horizontal stresses as a factor affecting the stability of roof and rib conditions in underground mines. Recently, a growing segment of the U.S. underground stone mining industry has also begun to recognize that horizontal stresses occur in some of its more than 90 mines. Considering the typically high strength and massive nature of limestone, this fact is a revelation in itself. High horizontal stresses produce extensive and sudden rock failures and, in some cases, resulted in injuries to mine workers. Through the years diverse control strategies have been proposed and experimented with. Reorientation of mine entries to reduce stress concentrations have been proven successful and are widely accepted in practice. Other solutions, like rock reinforcement, are poorly understood and are less accepted in practice. It is the purpose of this National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study to develop a better fundamental understanding of these ground control strategies under high horizontal stress conditions through a series of field and laboratory studies. To this end a design technique is presented which provides stone miners with a method for making stability assessments. The consequences of widening rooms, changing geology and horizontal stresses, and different rock bolts on roof beam failures are discussed.