The U.S. Bureau of Mines is investigating methods for evaluating and optimizing shaft designs for deep metal mines. This paper describes one such project at the Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota. To determine a safe approach for the extraction of ore from the ross shaft pillar at Homestake, a basic rock mechanics approach has been taken that involves laboratory testing, field measurements, and computer modeling. The results of the study show that ore bodies in the ross pillar can be mined safely and that the shaft will remain in elastic rock. On the basis of this work, other mines can develop finite- element modeling to evaluate the stability of mine openings and increase resource recovery.