A major constraint on sustaining high rates of production in the collieries of the Southern Coalfield of New South Wales is the inability to develop panels fast enough to match the rates of extraction. This inability is particularly crippling in the case of retreat longwall mining and is due to nearly half the time in roadway drivage being spent on strata control operations such as roof support.
Increased rates of roadway drivage and significantly improved roadway stability can be achieved by the application of yield pillars between parallel roadways. These pillars are designed to yield immediately upon formation and transfer the damaging roof loads away from the immediate vicinity of the roadways. Since the width of the yield pillar is the key to their successful application, it was determined through the Yield Pillar Experiment conducted by Kembla Coal and Coke Pty Ltd at West Cliff Colliery.
Three experimental headings, each nominally 5.5 m wide and 2.8 m high, were driven to form two tapering pillars. The width of these pillars progressively decreased from 24 m to 3 m over a length of 154 m. The convergence between the roof and floor of the headings measured at various cross-sections corresponding to predetermined widths of the pillars are analysed in this paper to evaluate the stability of the tapering pillars at the different widths.
The width of the yield pillar in a three heading development layout at West Cliff Colliery was determined to be 7.5 m.