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The evolution of intelligent coal pillar design: 1981-2006.

Mark C
Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Ground Control in Mining, August 1-3, 2006, Morgantown, West Virginia. Peng SS, Mark C, Finfinger GL, Tadolini S, Khair AW, Heasley KA, Luo Y, eds. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University, 2006 Aug; :325-334
The first International Conference on Ground Control in Mining opened with the topic of pillar design. Two classic papers were presented, one by Bieniwski and the other by Wilson. Unfortunately, the two methods were so radically different from each other that it was nearly impossible to reconcile them. Adding to the confusion were the many other pillar strength formulas (such as the Salamon-Munro, the Holland-Gaddy, and the Obert-Duvall, just to name a few) that were also available. Little wonder that discussions of pillar design in those days often ended with anguished cries of "but which formula is the right one? The past 25 years have seen substantial progress in the science of coal pillar design. Indeed, one testament to the improvement is the relative scarcity of papers on the topic at recent Conferences. Two factors have been largely responsible for the progress that has been made. The first has been the collection of large data bases of actual case histories of pillar performance in a variety of settings, from shallow room-and-pillar mines through deep cover longwalls. These have made possible the development of empirical design procedures that are closely linked to real world experience. The second important factor is the development of sophisticated computer models that can accurately simulate pillar behavior and roof/pillar/floor interactions. Together, these two lines of research have led to a new understanding of pillar mechanics that identifies three modes of pillar failure: Sudden, massive collapse, accompanied by airblast, for slender pillars (width/height<4). Squeezing, or slow, non-violent failure, for most room and pillar applications (4<w/h<10). Entry failure or bumps for deep cover and longwall applications (w/h>10). It is particularly satisfying that the insights gained from numerical models broadly support those obtained from the empirical studies. While far less controversial than in the past, pillar design problems continue to arise. One recent example is pillar design for highwall mining. NIOSH has just released a software package, called ARMPS-HWM, which employs a number of modern pillar design concepts. Since highwall mining web pillars are long and slender, the greatest danger is that of a sudden collapse. ARMPS-HWM suggests two possible prevention strategies, one which concentrates on the SF of the webs, and the other which creates a "pressure arch" using properly sized barrier pillars. The paper will close with a discussion of some current needs in coal pillar design, including: Updating older empirical methods, such as ALPS, where changes in technology (new types of roof support, more demanding ventilation requirements, faster retreat rates) may have made some of the original case histories obsolete. Methods for determining site-specific coal strengths, focusing on bedding plane strength and other factors that may effect confinement, as input for both empirical and numerical design. Improved methods for evaluating coal pillar performance for environmental issues, such as surface subsidence and hydrologic impacts, which consider such factors as depth, w/h ratio, water immersion/drainage, and time dependent seam strength.
Coal-mining; Mining-industry; Underground-mining; Ground-control; Ground-stability; Models; Computer-models; Simulation-methods; Mine-disasters; Mine-seals; Mine-shafts
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Peng SS; Mark C; Finfinger GL; Tadolini SC; Khair AW; Heasley KA; Luo Y
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Traumatic Injuries
Source Name
Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Ground Control in Mining, August 1-3, 2006, Morgantown, WV
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division