Status and prospects of underground thick coal seam mining methods

Authored by: B.K. Hebblewhite

Rock Mechanics and Engineering

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  June  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138027633
eBook ISBN: 9781315364223
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter provides an overview of the international “state of the art” with respect to high performance underground coal mining methods used in seams of thickness greater than 4.5m, with particular emphasis placed on the countries which have significant, high performance thick seam operations – namely Australia and China. Consideration of some early developments with thick seam mining – both with bord and pillar and longwall systems – is provided, drawing particularly on Australian mining experience. The chapter then focuses on mining systems capable of delivering high production/productivity performance, in part through a review of a selection of high performing thick seam mining operations around the world – both Single Pass Longwall (SPL) and Longwall Top Coal Caving (LTCC). The chapter discusses both operational experiences, together with the ground control/geotechnical issues faced, and identifies some of the major, inherent geotechnical factors that can influence the mining method selection, design criteria and ultimate performance, from both an operational and safety perspective. The chapter also presents some geotechnical design approaches and research challenges relevant to thick seam mining operations.

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