Analysis Of Pillar Design Practices And Techniques For U.S. Limestone Mines
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Analysis Of Pillar Design Practices And Techniques For U.S. Limestone Mines

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    Synopsis Underground stone mining Is an emerging sector of the U.S. mining industry. As this expansion takes mines under deeper cover, and as more efficient mining methods are utilized, effective stone pillar design methods will become even more Important. Current design practices are examined and a discussion of safe mine layouts is presented as a first approach towards weighing the demands for increased production against increased risk. Risks to underground stone-mine workers include rib Instabilities, pillar failures and roof falls. Seventy-two stone-mine pillar designs were examined. Pillars with width to height ratios of less than 1.5 appear more likely to fail when subjected to excessive stress levels. When width to height ratios fall below 1.0 defects in the pillars, such as through-running discontinuities, can have a significant influence on stability. Discontinuity persistence, dip, material properties and orientation are also important determining factors in pillar strength. During the past three years the number of active underground stone mines in the U.S.A. has ranged between 90 and 100. This number is expected to increase as the crushed stone industry responds to growing demands for its products.1 As more of the industry moves to benefit from the advantages of underground mining production from underground stone mines is expected to increase above its current level of approximately 66 000 000 r/year. Parker2 identified four advantages of underground mining operations: (1) surface developments, zoning laws and environmental concerns are often less of an issue; (2) stripping and restoration requirements are eliminated; (3) additional reserves are often available beneath the quarry floor, under pit slopes or under an adjoining property; and (4) space is created for secondary use. Underground mines enjoy the added benefits of work in a constant underground climate, rather than in the variable surface climate, minimization of community concerns by placement of the crushing, sizing and stowing operations underground and reduction of surface vibration concerns through smaller blasts. The drawbacks of underground mining include added health and safety hazards for the stone miners, whose health can suffer from increased exposure to falls of ground, airborne contaminants and fog in large underground openings. Injuries from falls of ground in stone mines have occasionally exceeded the incidence rates for other mineral resources mined underground. 3 Existing underground stone operations, by comparison with stone operations a decade ago, mine more stone at a faster rate and with larger equipment. Because of high demand mines face increased pressure to yield more stone per production blast. A majority of the miners use the V-cut blasting pattern, which limits the depth or pull for each shot to about 4 m. Therefore, to produce more stone, either the mines must work more faces or existing faces must be enlarged. The enlargement of underground openings poses problems in the maintenance o€ strata stability, First, the widths of the mine entries partially control the amount of sag or deflection that any given roof beam can withstand before failure. This deflection can take pi ace quickly after an opening is excavated or much later as weathering processes form additional, thinner beams. Because increased deflection increases the potential for roof beam failure, there is a limit to how wide a room can safely be made. These limits depend on local geological and stress conditions and, to some extent, the cost effectiveness of roof-bolting. Given these room width limitations, underground stone mines have placed more attention on expansion of production through benching where mining thicknesses permit. The heights of rooms partially control the strength characteristics of adjacent pillars: as the room height increases for a given pillar width the pillar width-to-height ratio (w/h) decreases. In general, stone pillars are very s
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