Mining Publication: Control and Monitoring of Gas in Blind Auger Headings
Advances in mining technology have enabled deeper seams of coal to be mined from the surface. Highwall mining is frequently used to mine areas at the perimeters of a surface mine when removal of the overburden becomes uneconomical or threatens environmentally sensitive surface features. At the same time, advances in materials and technology have enabled highwall mining of coal that create blind headings over 300 meters in length. Deeper surface mining and deeper highwall penetration depths have lead to more frequent encounters with methane gas. While this coal is remotely mined from the surface, underground ignitions of methane have propagated to the surface and injured miners. Methods described in this paper show how this hazard can be correctly monitored and controlled for auger type highwall mining machines. Research indicates that small quantities of gas liberated during mining migrate to the face, creating higher gas concentrations than would otherwise be expected. Using the same principles that cause the gas to migrate to the face, researchers have shown that inert gas introduced at the collar of the hole can inert the entire hole, thus ensuring safe conditions for mining.