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Pillar and roof span design guidelines for underground stone mines.

Esterhuizen GS; Dolinar DR; Ellenberger JL; Prosser LJ
Pittsburgh, PA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-171, IC 9526, 2011 May; :1-64
A study of pillar and roof span performance in stone mines that are located in the Eastern and Midwestern United States showed that various stability issues can be addressed by appropriate pillar and roof span design. Pillars can be impacted by rock joints, large angular discontinuities and can exhibit rib spalling at elevated stresses. Thin weak beds in the pillars, although rare, can have a significant impact by reducing pillar strength. If the roof strata are bedded, beam deflection and buckling can result in roof failure. The roof can also be impacted by large discontinuities and the effects of horizontal stress. A pillar design procedure is proposed that takes into consideration the rock strength, pillar dimensions and the potential impact of large angular discontinuities. Based on the proposed pillar design procedure and the observed performance of pillars in stone mines, a safety factor of at least 1.8 is recommended for pillar design. A lower limit pillar width-to-height ratio of 0.8 is also recommended. Designs that fall outside these limits have an elevated risk of instability and further investigation by rock engineering specialists is required. A roof span design procedure is also proposed that systematically addresses each of the main stability issues. The procedure focuses on selecting an appropriate mining horizon and mining direction. The importance of the thickness of the first bed in the roof and the likelihood for added rock bolting is described. Layout modifications are described that can be made to reduce the incidence of horizontal-stress-related instability. Both the pillar design and roof span guidelines require that a good understanding be obtained of the geotechnical characteristics of the formation being mined. The essential data are the uniaxial compressive strength of the rock, characteristics of the discontinuities and the rock mass classification. Knowledge of the magnitude and orientation of the stress field can assist in orienting the layout appropriately. The design procedures are based on observation of the actual performance of pillars and roof spans in stone mines within the Eastern and Midwestern United States. The guidelines should only be used for design under similar geotechnical conditions.
Accident-prevention; Control-technology; Engineering-controls; Ground-stability; Miners; Mine-workers; Mining-industry; Room-and-pillar-mining; Safety-engineering; Safety-measures; Safety-research; Statistical-analysis; Stone-mines; Underground-miners; Underground-mining; Ground-control
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Numbered Publication; Information Circular
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NTIS Accession No.
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Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-171; IC-9526
NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division