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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


PETHO, S.Z.; SELAI, C.; MASHIYI, D.  and  VAN DER MERWE, J.N.. Managing the geotechnical and mining issues surrounding the extraction of small pillars at shallow depths at Xstrata Coal South Africa. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2012, vol.112, n.2, pp.105-118. ISSN 2411-9717.

Pillar extraction at shallow depths with small pillars that were not originally intended for secondary extraction can provide a huge benefit to the coal mining industry in those areas where a significant percentage of the remaining coal reserves are locked up in small pillars at shallow depths and where opencast mining methods are simply not as cost-effective and practical to implement. A system considering all of the pertinent geotechnical and mining aspects for the safe and efficient pillar extraction of small pillars at shallow depths at Xstrata Coal South Africa (XCSA) has been further developed and implemented as part of an ongoing improvement process addressing all of the relevant legal and associated risk aspects. This work follows on from the previous pillar extraction work carried out at the ATC, Boschmans, and Spitzkop Collieries. The process involved a number of in-house workshops and sessions arranged with all key personnel from Tavistock Colliery, and also included Professor Nielen van der Merwe of the University of the Witwatersrand, a world renowned authority on pillar extraction, towards reviewing and developing the Modified NEVID pillar extraction system employed previously at Boschmans Colliery. The system is currently being employed at Tavistock Colliery with success and no major accidents, with around 655 000 t of coal having been successfully extracted from the pillar extraction panels.

Keywords : pillar extraction; small pillars at shallow depths; goafing; numerical modelling; instrumentation; mining and geotechnical considerations.

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