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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

J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.110 n.10 Johannesburg Oct. 2010




Design of Merensky Reef crush pillars



B.P. WatsonI; J.S. KuijpersII; T.R. StaceyIII

IGoldfields Ltd and University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
IICSIR, Johannesburg, South Africa
IIIUniversity of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa




The Bushveld platinum group metal deposits are two distinct, shallow-dipping stratiform tabular orebodies which strike for many hundreds of kilometres. Mining is extensive, with depths ranging from close-to-surface to 2 300 m. The mining method is a variation of planar open stoping. Pillars are widely employed to support the open stopes. In the deeper levels, in-stope pillars are required to fail in a stable manner soon after being cut, and the residual pillar strength is used to stabilize the hangingwall. These pillars are commonly known as crush pillars. Little work has been done in the past to determine pillar peak and residual strengths, and pillars have been designed using experience and formulae developed for other hard-rock mines. This has led to over and undersize pillars with consequential loss of ore, pillar bursts and potential collapses. This paper describes a crush pillar design methodology, and provides design charts. Three mining environments were incorporated in the investigations, which included underground and laboratory measurements, analytical solutions, numerical models and back analyses. The results of the study are suitable for the areas where the research was carried out, and may also be applied with caution in other similar environments.

Keywords: Crush pillar design, peak pillar strength, residual pillar strength, in situ measurements, design charts



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