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Experimental studies on corrosion of rock anchors in US underground coal mines

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2010, Vol. 328, No. 1, pp. 556-563

Spearing, A.J.S.; Mondal, K.; Bylapudi, G.


 The mining industry is a major consumer of rock anchors in the United States. Due to the high humidity in the underground coal-mining environment, the rock anchors corrode and lose their load bearing capacity, which, in turn, reduces the life expectancy of the ground support. This creates operational difficulties and a number of safety concerns (Li and Linblad, 1999). Research on rock anchor corrosion has not been adequate in the past and the effects of several factors in the mine atmosphere and waters are not clearly understood. One of the probable reasons for this lack of research may be attributed to the time required for gathering meaningful data. Underground water samples from different mines in the Illinois coal basin were collected and the major chemical content was analyzed and used for laboratory testing. The corrosion performance of the different commercial rock anchors was investigated by techniques such as laboratory immersion tests in five different corrosion chambers and potentiodynamic polarization tests in simulated ground waters based on the Illinois coal basin. The tensile strengths were measured for the selected rock anchors taken every three months from the salt spray corrosion chambers maintained at different pH values and temperatures. The corrosion potential, corrosion current and the corresponding corrosion rates of the #5, #6, #6 epoxy-coated and #7 forged-head rebar steels, #6 and #7 threaded-head rebar steels were measured in the pHs of 5 and 8 at room temperature. The open circuit potential (OCP) readings of the different rock anchors were recorded in three selected underground coal mines (A, B & C) in the Illinois coal basin and the data compared with the laboratory electrochemical tests for analyzing the life of the rock anchors installed in the mines with respect to corrosion current measured.