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Strata Mechanics of Pillar Extraction Goaf Edges

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Author Shepherd J and Chaturvedula V K
ID P199207070

Description

Pillar extraction carried out using various methods (split and lift, Wongawilli and Old Ben) involves the formation of narrow fenders (commonly 7 m of coal) formed by driving “splits” for lifting off with a continuous miner. The strata above a split and fender adjacent to the goaf consists of a cantilever beam (usually >3 m thick) that extends from the solid coal and bridges across the fender. Lifting off the fender from the split in safe conditions depends upon the bridging capability of the cantilever and the fender strength. The nature and competence of the immediate and near roof, the support capability of the coal fender and the presence of faults and or joints can adversely affect the bridging behaviour of the cantilever. Insufficient knowledge of these parameters can lead to extraction under dangerous conditions. Remnants of fenders (“stooks”) also support the cantilever and their dimensions are critical to obtain regular caving and goaf falls. Stook area, goaf roof span and roof stand-up time after lifting can be related and only a relatively small increase in stook area of 10-15 m2 can lead to a significantly increased stand-up time, especially under a massive roof. Such conditions strongly influence the re- distribution of abutment stresses and can create increased outbye pillar loading. Based on detailed underground geotechnical investigations, it is concluded that strata caveability, roof cantilever behaviour, fender H:W ratio and remnant stook size are all critical parameters for successful and safe pillar extraction.