A design tool for improving the safety of highwall mining operations
Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration
, 2015, Vol. 338, No. 1, pp. 457-466
Highwall mining, which is a relatively new mining method, is a preferred and often the only feasible method for extracting coal reserve left by surface mining operations in areas with steep terrain and in closely spaced thin coal seams. Though its safety record is comparable to that of surface mining, failures of mine structures in highwall mines, especially the highwall, have occurred. Methods for the systematic designing of highwall mines to meet the safety and operational challenges are still evolving.
This paper presents the results of research into improving the existing design methods and developing new ones for highwall mining operations. The design methodology is aimed at ensuring structural stability of the highwall, roof, web and barrier pillars and preventing subsidence. It takes into consideration the major ground control challenges of soft and layered mine roofs, and interactions from mining closely spaced coal seams. An optimization design process applying a pressure arch concept can be incorporated to improve the recovery rate of coal reserve. A computer program based on the design methodology was developed.