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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


WATSON, B.P.; KUIJPERS, J.  and  MIOVSKY, P.. In situ measurements of Merensky pillar behaviour at Impala Platinum. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2009, vol.109, n.12, pp.745-754. ISSN 2411-9717.

The Bushveld platinum group metal deposits in South Africa are the largest in the world. These deposits occur as two distinct stratiform tabular ore bodies and strike for many hundreds of kilometres. Mining is extensive, with depths ranging from close-to-surface to 2300 m. The mining method is a variation of planar open stoping. Crush pillars are widely used to support the open stopes. These pillars are designed to fail and the residual strength provides the required support resistance to stabilize the stoping excavations. This paper describes the in situ measurement, of stress within a Merensky pillar from Impala Platinum. These measurements were used to derive a stress-strain curve that includes pre and post failure behaviour. 2D FLAC modelling, with strain softening, was done to investigate how damage expands into the hanging- and/or footwall. Although the so-called 'squat' effect is always present, the modelling suggests that it does not dominate the pillar system behaviour at larger width to height ratios. Punching of the pillar into the hanging- and/or footwall increasingly controls the pillar system behaviour with larger width to height ratios. The paper investigates the behaviour of a system that incorporates the immediate hanging- and footwall, as well as the pillar itself.

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