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7th BALKANMINE CONGRESS – Proceedings, Prijedor 2017

DOI: 10.7251/BMC170702095P



Drago POTOĈNIK1, Aleš LAMOT1, Janez ROŠER1, Milivoj VULIĆ2

Premogovnik Velenje d.o.o., Velenje, Slovenia: drago.potocnik@rlv.s,,
Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering, Ljubljana, Slovenia:


With underground longwall mining method,Velenje Coal Mine is causing subsidence of the surface
above mine pits. The influence area of mining in the exploitation area of Velenje Coal Mine is subject
to constant changes of the surface. The size and the location of the mine influence on surface area is
changing according to the location and the size of the mining panels. Surface movements and
deformations are observed on over 300 measurement points in mining area and its vicinity using mine
surveying monitoring system including tachymetry, geometrical levelling, GNSS, TLS and aerial
photogrammetry. The Velenje Coal Mine’s mine surveying monitoring system is complex and can be
classified as an extended geodetic monitoring system. The extended geodetic monitoring system is
constantly upgraded with new measurements and the latest measuring equipment.

Key words:underground coal mining, mine surveying, subsidence, geodetic monitoring system


The Velenje Coal Mine (VCM) is located in the Šaleška Valley between the city of Velenje
and the town of Šoštanj and spreads on 1104 hectares (Figure 1). The VCM mining area is
subject to constant subsidence of the terrain and the lakes’ bottoms that emerged as
consequence of coal excavation. In the VCM coal is excavated at a depth of more than 400
meters according to the Velenje Mining Method (VMM) with continuous caving-in of the
hanging wall layers [1]. The length of longwalls is from 80 m to 210 m and the length of the
panels varies from 600 m to 800 m.

7th BALKANMINE CONGRESS – Proceedings, Prijedor 2017

Figure 1. Mining area (inside redpolygon) and scheme of the VCM’s observation networks.

The size and the location of subsidence is changing according to the location and the size of
the mining panels in the excavation sites of the mine. One of the mine surveying tasks are to
predict subsidence, asses potential impacts, advise on methods to manage potential impacts
and to monitor coal mining influence and advise during mining. The VCM's mining area
geodetic monitoring system is complex and is classified as an extended geodetic monitoring
system [2]. The surface movements and subsidence are observed in mining area and its
vicinity. Monitoring the surface movements and subsidence covers measurements of geodetic
observation networks, dams between lakes and the bottoms of lakes, furthermore monitoring
of nearby industrial buildings, residential buildings and terrain of mining by using classical
surveying methods (tachymetry, geometric levelling) and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite
System) surveying. The extended geodetic monitoring system is constantly expanding and
upgrading with new measurements and use of new surveying methods like terrestrial laser
scanning, automatic GNSS monitoring system and aerial photogrammetry.


Classic geodetic measurements are used for determine subsidence and movements of
observation points of the observation networks. The observation networks of the VCM consist
of over 300 observation points on surface as shown in figure 1. Observation of points in
observational networks are performed with classical terrestrial surveying methods, which
result in three-dimensional coordinates (Y, X, H) in the national Gauss-Krüger coordinate
system. For a more accurate determination of point’s elevation, the method of geometric
levelling is used. Measurements of observation networks are generally performed at least once
a year, in some cases, even several times per month. GNSS measurements are also part of
standard geodetic techniques and it is used for measurements of basic observation network.
The depth measurement data of the Šalek lakes is essential in monitoring the subsidence area
that is filled with water [3, 4]. In VCM the Reason Navi Sound 110 sonar has been used for
measuring the depths since 2010, as it enables connection to a computer and GNSS device;

7th BALKANMINE CONGRESS – Proceedings, Prijedor 2017

the results of the measurements are points with given Y, X, Z coordinates and the depth.
Based on models of the lakebed structure from each year, subsidence areas under the lakes
can be seen. A comparison of results measurements with previous measurement sprovides
insight into the changes that have occurred within one or more years. Figure 2 shows
equipment for bathymetry that we use, resulting bathymetric map and 3D model of lakebed

Figure 2. (a) Equipment for bathymetry, (b) the bathymetric map and (c) 3D model of lakebed structure.

One of the more modern method of observation is an establishment of real-time GNSS

automatic monitoring system, which has been placed on the cooling tower of Unit 4 of the
Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant (TEŠ). Monitoring system consists of three GNSS observation
points (GMX N, GMX S and GMX E), which are located at the circumference at the top of
the cooling tower of Unit 4, two observation points with inclination sensors (Nivel n and
Nivel s), which are located on the circumference on the ground of the cooling tower of the
Unit 4 and a reference (stable) GNSS point (GRS O), located outside of potentially influenced
area (Figure 3a). Continuous real-time monitoring enables fast and efficient response to
critical emergencies such as displacements or deformations of the monitored structure.
Throughout the whole observation period, we monitored any potential changes in position of
points on-line. On figure 3c the results of 20-minute interval measurements on every 24
hours, which gives us the maximum accuracy, are presented. By setting up a system for
continuous monitoring the movements and deformations of the cooling tower of Unit 4 in
TEŠ in real-time, stable conditions and safety are provided [5, 6]. Data obtained in real-time
are essential for both optimal preventive action as well as the proper curative treatment.

Figure 3. (a) The position of the measuring points of the automatic GNSS monitoring in TEŠ, (b) GNSS satellite
constellation and (c) point displacement real-time diagrams for observation points in X coordinate direction with
corresponding regression functions.

7th BALKANMINE CONGRESS – Proceedings, Prijedor 2017


Aerial photography for mapping terrain is in use for several decades. Development in the field
of optics and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) – drones has enabled technologies that can
already compete in accuracy with traditional geodetic measurements of the terrain. Use of
photogrammetry in combination with drones enables high-quality 3D terrain and objects
modelling that can be used in mining industry for projects plans, monitoring of mining
operations and construction works. The VCM uses drones for surveying of the mining area to
produce 3D models of terrain, furthermore to detect subsidence caused by mining and to
calculate the volume of subsidence and the volume status of the coal depot [7].
Field measurements involve the installation of ground control points (GCP) - targets for
which exact coordinates need to be determined, usually done with the GNSS method (Figure
4a). These GCP are important for geo-referencing obtained aerial photogrammetry data [8].
Furthermore, computer processing involves the import of 2D images and GCP locations,
resulting in creation of a point cloud. Since the point cloud represents points with given XYZ
coordinates, we can then construct a digital elevation model, or by filtering individual points,
a digital surface model. By combining the DOF and the digital surface model, we create a 3D
image model [9]. Figure 4b shows 3D model of settling basins in mining area, created from
drone’s aero photogrammetry measurements. Moreover, by calculating the difference between
two successive measurements, volume changes of terrain can be obtained (Figure 4c).

Figure 4. (a) Digital orthophoto of observed part of mining area with marked Ground Control Points (numbered
dots), (b) 3D model of settling basins and (c) digital 3D model of mining area with DOF display and calculated
volume of subsidence of certain area (red transparency).

As drones proved to be very suitable for monitoring important structures in the mining area,
on figure 5 the drone measurement results of protective embankment of the lake are shown.
The main advantage, in addition to 3D visualization, is the simple way to extract the 2D
profiles needed in ordinary engineering design as shown on figure 5d.

7th BALKANMINE CONGRESS – Proceedings, Prijedor 2017

Figure 5. (a) Digital 3D model with DOF of protective embankment, (b) point cloud of individual area, (c) 3D
model with DOF magnification of individual areaand (d) corresponding extracted 2D profile

The monitoring of coal depots is important for ensuring and coordinating coal consumption
for the production of electricity [4]. The method described allows both the acquisition of a
digital orthophoto image at the desired time, as well as the calculation of the volume of coal
located at the depots. Figure 6a in b shows the axonometric view of the digital cloud of the
captured coal depots points. Based on this point cloud, volume of individual coal depot is
calculated (Figure 6c) and the location of the parallel profiles used to calculate the volume by
the profile method are extracted (Figure 6d).

Figure 6. (a) Digital 3D model of coal depots, (b) magnification of individual area, (c) calculated volume of
individual coal depot and (d) corresponding extracted 2D profiles

7th BALKANMINE CONGRESS – Proceedings, Prijedor 2017

With underground longwall mining method Velenje Coal Mine is causing subsidence of the
surface above mine pits. Before 1990, network measurements were conducted only by a
combination of triangulation and trilateration for the plane network and a geometric levelling
for the height network. However, with the development of satellite technologies and the
GNSS system, at the Velenje Coal Mine an observation network based on GNSS
measurements was established. Such points represent a much better basis for establishing the
coordinates of the mining observation networks main points, which we then use for
measurements of the observation networks. However, surface movements have a negative
effect on all neighbouring facilities. By monitoring these movements and the deformation of
close industrial and residential facilities, we are able to provide safe working and living
conditions. Moreover, we are able to calculate position changes of surface points and facilities
in any given time frame using these observations.
Recent methods include remote data capture techniques, which include drones, planes and
satellites. The use of drones in the mining industry is on the rise as it offers the possibility to
use in various engineering fields. Surveying methods of large areas with drones combined
with corresponding computer programs already outperforms traditional surveying methods.
Using drones to observe mining area shortens measurement time and consequently reduces
costs and increases productivity.


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