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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. et al. Design and positive financial impact of crush pillars on mechanized deep-level mining at South Deep Gold Mine. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2014, vol.114, n.10, pp.863-873. ISSN 2411-9717.

Crush pillars have been incorporated into a mechanized, low-profile trackless system at South Deep Gold Mine. These pillars had to be designed to fail near the face and to ensure that pillar failure is contained within the pillar, to avoid bursting and the risk of high loads being generated during a seismic event, respectively. PoweRite backfill bags were recommended to maintain the integrity of the pillars; except in the main access drives, where the sidewalls were to be supported on 5.6 mm diameter weldmesh and yielding anchors. The results of a trial site investigation exceeded expectations, showing a residual pillar strength of about 37 MPa for a newly formed pillar and 8 MPa for a pillar subjected to seismicity and a closure of more than 300 mm. The introduction of these pillars has improved the rock mass conditions because of the active nature of the support, compared to the previous passive backfill method. Importantly, the pillars have increased mining efficiencies and improved face availability. A potential cost saving to the mine of R140.9 million could be realized over a period of 10 years.

Keywords : crush pillars; de-stress mining; backfill.

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