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Rock Bolting in German Coal Mines – State of the Art and Recent Developments


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Author Reuther E and Hermulheim W


In the Federal Republic of Germany hard coal is mined underground only. The coal mines reach down to 1 500 m deep, recently having an average depth of 900 m. The commonly used winning system is long- wall mining with face lengths up to 250 in. The gate roads, which separate the seam into single panels, have an average length of one kilometre with a cross- section up to 20 m2. These single entries are usually supported by yielding steel arches. The installation of steel arches can hardly be mechanized. The choice of heavier support, caused by increasing depth and roadway cross-section, results in high cost for labour and material in gate roads. Furthermore, the heavy steel arch is acci- dent-prone, not only during installation but also during transportation and ship- ment. Rock bolts combined with a suitable lagging offer a way of mechanizing support work in headings. The aim is to decrease cost and to increase mine safety and pro- ductivity. Over the last ten years, 50 km of gate roads have been reinforced by a combination of rock bolts and weld mesh. Nevertheless, there are still differing opinions on the feasibility of rock bolting in gate roads. In Germany a long tradition and experience with steel arch support exists, whereas the function of an anchorage is a closed book to miners, preventing this new technique from spreading more quickly. Advantages and shortcomings of both steel arch support and rock bolting are compared. The experience with rock bolting up to now is reported. Possible improve- monts arm discussed.