PILLAR DESIGN IN UNDERGROUND MINING

World Mining Congress
Pillars are used in various forms in underground mining. For several decades pillar design has been an issue in both soft and hard rock underground mining. The major use of pillars is in room-and-pillar type mining. Pillars are critical structures in the production levels of block cave mines. With most mines leaning towards the use of block caving for ore extraction today, pillar design has become even more important. Empirical pillar design is popular. The use of numerical modeling is becoming more common in the design of underground mine pillars. A critical review of both the empirical and numerical modeling approaches to the design of underground mine pillars reveal some fundamental flaws. In general, pillar design approaches often assume the pillars are vertical, and are subjected to pure compression. Pillar failure criteria are then based on this assumption. Most papers on numerical modeling for pillar stability assessment use vertical pillars. This paper shows that where pillars are not subjected to pure compression the empirical pillar design approaches are inadequate, and that when using numerical models for the assessment of pillar performance, more care is needed in the determination of the average pillar stresses.
Keywords: Pillars; pillar; Pillar design; Pillar strength; Rocks; Rock; Strength; Coal; stress; Design;
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