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Ground control ramifications and economic impact of retreat mining on room and pillar coal mines
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As the coal reserves at shallow depths become exhausted companies have to develop deeper deposits and increase percentage extraction to maintain production levels. Total extraction for room and pillar mines can only be achieved by pillar extraction. The unsupported roof increases during pillar extraction and hence the cost of ground control also increases. Nevertheless, pillar extraction where possible has many potential advantages such as decreased operating cost, increased utilization of reserves, and extended life of the mine. There are several variables such as depth, mining height, rock strength, mining geometry, roof and floor conditions, and retreat mining methods, which affect pillar extraction cost. Cost components of pillar extraction are classified as direct, indirect, fixed, and subsidence compensation costs. A discounted cash flow pillar extraction cost simulator has been developed and used to compute total pillar extraction cost for a variety of conditions and to explore the possibilities of optimizing ground control and retreat mining techniques to maximize extraction ratio. The computer program computes the safe and optimum pillar dimensions and determines the suitable pillar extraction method for the computed pillar width. Pillar extraction cost components are generated and totalled using the net present value method by the simulator. The total extraction cost simulator evaluates the potential advantages of pillar extraction and tests individual variables for sensitivity to changes in other variables attributable to ground control and pillar extraction techniques. Cost of pillar extraction per ton of coal versus depth is presented in the form of a simple nomogram by the simulator. The simulator can be used to determine the economic feasibility of pillar extraction at a particular depth, geologic and mining environment when the market price of mined coal is known.
- Doctoral Dissertations