Mining Publication: Deep Cover Pillar Recovery in the US
In the wake of the Crandall Canyon mine disaster, the U.S. Congress asked the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) to study the safety of deep cover pillar recovery operations in the US. The legislation defined "deep cover" to be greater than 1,500 ft, but NIOSH is also evaluating mines at depths greater than 1,000 ft when multiple seam interactions are encountered. By these definitions, there about 35 active mines that engage in deep cover pillar recovery, in the states of UT, CO, VA, WV, and KY. To date, NIOSH has documented ground conditions and ground control experience at nearly all of them. This paper provides an overview of current deep cover pillar recovery practice. Specific ground control issues that are discussed include: Pillar recovery sequences, Pillar and barrier pillar design, Coal bumps, Thick seam pillar extraction, and Multiple seam interactions.