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SELECTION OF TECHNO-ECONOMICALLY OPTIMUM TECHNIQUE FOR HARD

ROOF MANAGEMENT IN INDIAN UNDERGROUND COAL MINES -


A NOMOGRAM
CHANDRANI D. PRASAD*, VIJAY SHANKAR JAIPAL*, ACHYUTA KRISHNA GHOSH**

Abstract
While underground mining of coal seams in India, encountering hard, massive, difficult-to-cave
sandstone roof is quite common. Presence of such roof makes the mine development easy by
ensuring ground stability at this phase because of their high self-supporting capability, but it
often poses a serious techno-economic problem at the time of winning of coal due to its non-
caving nature and high strain energy storing capacity. Mining with stowing or partial extraction
may be technically feasible solutions, but in most cases, they are not economically viable, or
conservationally acceptable. In such condition, induced caving of roof holds the key of success
of coal winning.

Of different induced caving techniques, blasting of roof in goaf either in underground or from
surface, high-pressure water injection, hydro-fracturing, use of expanding materials (also
referred as silent explosives), can be practised in Indian coal mines depending on their
respective technical suitability and economic viability with respect to a given set of geo-mining
conditions. However, induced caving by blasting is the only method practised in a few Indian
collieries, and R&D is on to establish the high-pressure water injection system, but other
techniques also seem to offer promising solutions in certain instances.
Success of application of any of these techniques depends upon a number of geomining factors
such as depth of working, gassiness of seam, in situ stress distribution pattern, rock mass
stiffness, porosity and permeability of strata, geological disturbances etc. and several legislative
and technical parameters relevant to that technique, like diameter, depth and number of holes,
type and amount of explosive to be used, etc.

Hence, to select a techno-economically acceptable induced caving technique for any given set
of geo-mining condition, systematic guidelines are required. In this paper, an attempt has been
made to formulate a nomogram for this type of selection for Indian underground coal mines
under prevailing techno-economic and geo-mining conditions.

Introduction
Strata control is the major problem in underground coal mines where the immediate roof is
massive sandstone. It has high compressive strength and modulus of elasticity, and
accumulates strain energy till it fails all of a sudden, often with violence causing air blasts, rock
bursts and/or coal bumps. Spalling of coal, collapse of faces and overriding of pillars are some
other common phenomena associated with such roof that endangers the mine workings during
coal winning and sometimes result in heavy damages to supports, machineries and ventilation
network, and serious and fatal accidents.

Several accidents have taken place in the past with huge loss of production and equipment. A
well-known example is that of the longwall face collapse at Churcha West Colliery in 1990 and
at Kottadih Colliery in 1997. Massive strata failures occurred at a number of longwall faces in
Rana seam at Rana Colliery, in Rana seam at Bhanora Colliery, and in Taltore seam at Jamuria
Colliery. Partial collapse took place in Saunda ‘D’ Colliery. Heavy weightings were observed at
longwall faces in Seetalpur Colliery, Patherkhera Colliery and Chinakuri Colliery (Dishergarh
seam).

* Scientist, ** Deputy Director, Central Mining Research Institute, Dhanbad-826 001


chand_prasad@yahoo.com, vsjaipal@rediffmail.com, akghosh_cmri@yahoo.co.in
In all the abovementioned cases, presence of strong bed of sandstone in the immediate roof of
the coal seam was common. Though major failures took place in longwall workings but bord &
pillar workings is no exception. Fatal accidents took place in 24 LE and 17 LW bord-&-pillar
panels due to overriding during weighting in Churcha West Colliery. A violent failure of yield
pillars and roof caving took place in panel 23-F leading to an air blast through panel 23-I in July
1999 in Parascole West Colliery. Two incidents of severe overriding took place to a distance of
25 m in the working of 65 LW panel of Churcha West Colliery in 1999 that lead to the stoppage
of depillaring work in this mine for quite a long time. The root cause of all such failures is large
overhang in goaf area associated with sudden and dynamic caving. It is obvious that stowing,
partial extraction or induced caving of such roofs holds the key of success and safety in such
workings.

Extraction with stowing is the safest option, where the goaf is solidly packed with sand, but it is
highly cost intensive and cumbersome. On the other hand, partial extraction, the other option
where splitting is taken as final operation and small stooks are formed and left in situ, is low in
production and productivity, and does not comply with the basic principles of mineral
conservation because of very poor recovery.
Yield pillar technique was developed based on the concept that if pillars with safety factor
marginally left in situ over time under massive roof, the left over pillars/stooks allows the roof to
cave slowly and gradually. However, the method has been banned since the roof failure in
Parascole West Colliery.

Apart from these, a number of induced caving techniques viz., blasting of roof in goaf either
from underground or from surface, high-pressure water injection, hydraulic fracturing, use of
expanding materials (also referred as silent explosives) are available. Induced caving by
underground blasting is the most popular method despite its limitations of amount of explosive
to be used underground, risks associated with it, and ventilation problems. Large-diameter
deep-hole surface blasting above uncaved goaf is suitable for shallow working depths,
preferably not exceeding 100 m.

Hydraulic fracturing from surface can deal any depth but it requires knowledge of in situ stress.
Sleeve fracturing in combination with hydraulic fracturing is suitable for fracturing any type of
rock. High pressure water injection is appropriate for weakening of porous and permeable roof
rock to turn it cave-able.

Non-explosive expanding materials that have not been tried till date to break roof rocks in
underground openings, but have been used for secondary breaking of boulders and winning
small opencast benches in soft formations, may be tried to induce caving.

It is mandatory, by Indian law to adopt suitable means to bring down the goaf at regular intervals
under sub-section 5 of section 100 of Coal Mines Regulation (CMR), 1957. But no suitable
guideline is available with reference to any particular technique and their applicability conditions.
Thus, it is necessary to have a nomogram which will guide step by step in the selection of
techno-economically optimum technique under specific geo-mining conditions. An attempt has
been made in this paper towards this direction.

Hard roof management Techniques


Various hard roof management techniques are available as given below
1. Stowing
2. Partial extraction

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3. Yield pillar technique
4. Induced caving

1. Stowing
This method is commonly practised to protect the ground surface from subsidence while mining
below that surface. In this process, the void of goaf is hydraulically, pneumatically or
mechanically packed with some suitable fill material, hydraulic sand stowing being the most
common practice in India. Availability of sand is a major constraint of this method. Of course,
nowadays fly ash is being tried as fill material in some mines. However, this method is highly
cost-intensive, hinders production cycle lowering production and productivity, deteriorates
working environment in underground by raising humidity, and in effect is uneconomical.

2. Partial extraction
This method is usually practised to protect the surface from subsidence or any damage while
working below a built up area or water reservoir and coal is extracted partially by driving large
number of wide galleries leaving small pillars in situ. The void can be left as it is or it can be
stowed solid in which case it is termed as split and pack method (Das, 1994). This method is
low in production and productivity, and leads to loss of large amount of coal in goaf forever and
thus does not comply with the basic principles of mineral conservation.

3. Yield pillar technique


In this method, in a bord-&-pillar panel a few selected pillars are left in situ that are designed to
yield or fail slowly as the overlying massive roof caves gradually in a controlled manner against
the resistance offered by those yielding pillars. The actual failure process of the yield pillar takes
a long time to complete. This period is proportional to the local stiffness, which in turn depends
upon the yield pillar location with respect to stiffer panel barrier pillars, the width-to-cover ratio of
the extraction panel and the elastic moduli of roof strata as compared to the coal seam. It varies
directly as the pillar area. Larger pillars therefore have a better chance to succeed as yield
pillars.

This was practised successfully in Parascole East Colliery in Jambad seam of Raniganj
coalfield. The seam was 12.6 m thick with band of rock and 70–140 m deep. Development into
pillars was done in two sections, both 3 m high leaving a parting or interburden of 4.6 m, the
bottom section being along the floor. The pillars were square and are 24 and 21 m wide with a
gallery width of 4 m. vertical alignment between pillars were maintained. During depillaring, both
the sections were heightened to 4.8 m leaving a parting of 3 m which partly consist of rock. Part
plan of the five trial panels 8 A-E which were extracted by leaving intervening barrier pillars and
also yield pillars in the goaf is shown in Fig. 1. This design was first tried in panels 8 A-D. Panels
were of size not more than 15 pillars as the incubation period of coal seam was only 4-5 months
that too with usual drill-blast winning. Considering the chance of success in narrow panels and
geometry of the development alternate pillars in the middle row was left as yield pillars. The
pillar safety factor was kept as 0.82–0.87.

A variable resistance type strain bar specially designed and fabricated in Central Mining
Research Institute (CMRI) were installed in the yield pillars in both top and bottom section.
Displacement observation in the yield pillar of panel 8-D is shown in Fig. 2. It was observed that
the movement after remaining stationary for some time started increasing significantly after
depillaring started in adjoining panel 8–B. The immediate roof in panel 8–B showed symptoms
of roof weighting followed by a goaf fall which coincides when the yield pillar had already started
falling in panel 8–D (Sheorey, et al, 1995). Thus method was quite successful in Parascole East
Colliery and later tried in Parascole West Colliery as well.

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However, after working out 20 panels successfully, a violent failure of yield pillars and strata
took place in panel 23–F leading to an air blast through panel 23–I in the month of July 1999.
The possible reasons sought were presence of dyke changing the integrity of the yield pillar,
reduction of yield pillar size, top-bottom eccentricity of contiguous seam pillars, and reduction of
barriers. Though, it was not the failure of method, its practice was banned forever.

4. Induced caving
All the induced caving techniques currently available in the global technological shelf are based
on either of the two principles-
 To break the immediate roof with good fragmentation and bulking factor so that it fills the
goaf adequately to prevent overriding or air blast subsequent to any further sudden and
massive collapse of higher roof; and

 To weaken the roof, or in other words, to improve its cavability, by modifying its
geotechnical characteristics by creating artificial planes of weakness in it and/or by
reducing its physico-mechanical strength.

On the basis of these two principles, various available techniques are:


 Deep hole surface blasting
 Caving by underground blasting
 Hydraulic fracturing
 High pressure water injection
 Other possible techniques like use of non-explosive chemical compounds

All these methods can be applied in two ways, pre-fracturing or post-fracturing. It is required by
Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) under Coal Mines Regulation, 1957 to adopt suitable
means to bring down the goaf at regular intervals under sub-section 5 of section 100. Thus any
of these techniques can be used provided they do not pose any danger to miners’ safety.
However, proper identification of strong beds that play dominant role in roof caving and loading
at the face is the prerequisite for successful application of any of above said techniques.

Pre-fracturing is a better choice as here roof rock is weakened in advance of working. When
falling in goaf, an already fragmented or pre-fractured roof rock will further swell in volume
making greater bulking factor to be achievable even in hard rocks (Choudhury, 2002).
Unhindered advancement of face and reduction in level of periodic weightings on supports are
other noteworthy advantages associated with pre-fracturing technique.

Alternatively, post-fracturing is the common way where caving is induced in the roof strata in
goaf after winning of coal. This method requires less meticulousness in planning compared to
pre-fracturing systems, but as the roof treatment operation is carried out in goaf, unlike pre-
fracturing technique, it has limited control on the consequence in terms of rock fragmentation.

4.1 Deep hole surface blasting


In this method, a number of large diameter deep holes are drilled from the surface above the
goaf area and explosive is placed in such a way as to ensure the breakage of the identified
strong rock bed on blasting. If the identified rock strata are well above the coal seam being
worked, non-permitted explosives may be used; otherwise only permitted explosives should be
used.

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An experiment was carried out at longwall panel P-1 (Fig. 3) of width 150 m, in Burhar VI B coal
seam of thickness 2 to 3.33 m at Rajendra Project, SECL. Depth of coal seam was varying from
60 to 63 m. 4×503 T chock shield supports of were deployed to provide support resistance of 75
t/m2 at yield pressure of 40 MPa. The strong bed of high Rock Quality Designation (RQD) was
found at a height of 17 to 20 m above the coal seam. Holes of 30 to 52 m depth, 6 to 12 in
number, spaced at a distance of 45 to 75 m from the face were blasted using 350 to 1000 kg of
Aquadyne explosive. Observation of leg closure on supports, subsidence advance due to
weighting, convergence in the gate roads, cavity formation, spalling at the face and the
weighting interval were made to study the severity of weightings. Average subsidence advance
was 1.47 m to 1.95 m. No severe weighting was observed where goaf blasting was adopted. On
the contrary, with few exceptions, severe weighting was observed where blasting was not
practised.
Other than the risk of hazard from explosives, application of this technique is limited by depth
from surface. Very deep holes may deviate and may not fulfil the desired purpose apart from
increased cost of drilling. Also providing casing in weaker sections of rock is a difficult in very
deep holes. This technique has also been tried in longwall projects of Balrampur, Kumda &
Rajendra mines of SECL and roof weightings have been managed successfully (Bhati, 2003).

4.2 Underground blasting


It is the most commonly practised technique in Indian mines as no additional set up and
laboratory tests are required for its application. A number of inclined holes towards goaf are
drilled and charged in advance. These holes are then blasted out with the help of explosives
after the goaf edge is reached. However, it has a number of limitations. It is not suitable for
gassy mines due to several blasting hazards associated with the use of explosives, even a
small crack filled with gas may cause explosion. Another factor is height of roof that can be
dislodged is limited to 6-8m with the permitted amount of explosives which varies with degree of
gassiness of seam for any particular mine as shown in table 1. In addition to this, presence of
fault planes may provide an escape route for explosion gases and thus reduction in utilised
explosive energy effect. Also, drilling holes beyond 10 m length with usual coal drill is difficult.

Table 1 DGMS stipulations on maximum permissible charges in a shot hole


Type of Max. permissible
Gassiness of Seam Winning Method
Explosive charge/shot hole
P1 Degree I Cut face 800
P3 Degree I, II & III Cut face 1000
P5 Degree I Blasting off-the-solid 1000
P5 Degree II & III Blasting off-the-solid 565

Similar situation occurred in Churcha West Mine of SECL. Seam V having thickness of 3 to 3.45
m is being worked at a depth of 320 m with strata monitoring and induced caving by blasting.
Pillars are of size 45 × 45 m with a gallery width of 4.2 m. The blasting pattern in practice is
shown in Fig.4. Six to fifteen numbers of holes of 43 mm diameter drilled at an angle of 55 0
towards goaf of depth 7 m is blasted with P1 explosive. They are drilled in three rows such that
after blasting they will provide a breakage plane along which the hanging roof will detach as in
Figs. 4(a) & (b). Cumulative and daily convergence at 76L/26X (15 m Dip) is shown in Fig.5.
Both the cumulative and daily convergence increases due to weighting and get reduced after
introduction of blasting on 15th, 20th, 23rd, 24th and 26th Feb 2003 at a distance of 15-45 m and
corresponding fall on 11th, 14th and 20th Feb 2003. Though, severity of falls has been reduced,
spalling of 0.5 to 1 m is observed at one pillar from pillar under extraction. Based on the
instrumentation observations CMRI suggested blast to a height of 15 m for maintaining safe

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stress level in workings, but the mine management is finding it difficult to deal with and are
managing with a depth of 7 m at present. Thus, it is necessary to develop existing induced
caving techniques for greater depth.

4.3 High pressure water injection


It is mainly practised as a pre-fracturing technique, where the immediate roof is broken in
advance of mining. It is suitable for roof rock which loses its strength under water. From the
results of petrographic test, water immersion test and permeability test are are needed to
determine the extent to which strength of rock reduces after absorption of water. Adhesion,
absorption, hydration, wedge effect and dissolution are the mechanisms utilised to alter the
mechanical properties of roof rock. Number of inclined holes towards goaf is drilled and water is
injected at high pressure to fracture the roof rock after sealing 3-6 m length of hole by cement
grout. The maximum injection pressure depends on the resistance of roof rock to passage of
water, which in turn depends on permeability and aperture of joints, fissures and cracks.
Quantity of water per hole and its duration of injection are other important factors. Rigorous
efforts are going on in CMRI to establish this technique, as it is applicable to greater depth
irrespective of gassiness of mine. In addition to that water infusion inside the rock covers a
wider area and number of holes required is appreciably less than that of blasting. However, it
may raise humidity of working areas at depths.

A number of trials have been made at Churcha West Colliery and Parascole Colliery and results
are quite encouraging. In 10W extended panel of Churcha West Colliery, 13 numbers of NX size
holes of length 50-70 m were drilled at an angle of 25 o–30o (Fig. 6). These holes were sealed to
a length of 6 m by cement grout and water was injected at an initial pressure of 1400 Psi.
Schematic arrangement of water injection is shown in Fig. 7. The pressure was gradually
reduced but rate of injection was increased. About 32,000 litres of water was injected at a rate of
68 l/min till water leakage from roof was observed. It was found that, in the water injected zone,
spalling and overriding of pillars gets reduced significantly and roof fall occurred layer by layer
accompanied by water (CMRI Report, 2000a). The total cumulative convergence also increased
before periodic and local falls of the overlying roof rocks in the goaf (Fig. 8) this indicates a
significant decrease in the dynamism and intensity of caving. While, India is still in developing
stage, it is a well known practice in Chinese coalfields.

4.4 Hydraulic fracturing


The basic principle of hydraulic fracturing is to isolate a section of borehole and create a fracture
by applying hydraulic pressure [Fig. 9(a)] for determination of in situ stresses. The fracture so
created propagates in a direction normal to the minimum stress direction. This fracture can be
utilised to induce caving in massive sandstone bed by drilling required number of holes and
joining them by hydraulic pressure to provide a breakage plane. However, isolated part of a
borehole should be free from geological weakness planes or pre-existing fractures. If the line of
goaf is parallel to maximum stress direction an effective breakage plane can be obtained
otherwise it will not help. In such case, serrata S-350 an instrument of sleeve fracturing
technique, another in situ stress measurement technique, having semi-cylindrical friction shells
with two gaps diametrically opposite surrounded by hard rubber membrane, can be utilised to
create fracture [Fig. 9(b)]. It facilitates creation of fracture in any desired direction irrespective of
field stresses. However, the cracks do not propagate far from the borehole. Thus a combination
of this instrument and hydraulic fracturing technique can serve the purpose to a good extent.

Successful application of hydraulic fracturing alone requires the lithological knowledge of


immediate roof strata as well as the in situ stress distribution pattern of the concerned region. Of

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course, it is a costly endeavour but will not be so at greater depth. Because, days are not far off
when mining industry has to opt for deeper mining that itself necessitates determination of in
situ stress for much better and safe mine design, as shallow deposits are depleting very fast.
Moreover, elimination of hazards associated with use of explosive is an added advantage.

Pure hydro-fracturing has been tried in Kumda 7 & 8 inclines of Bisrampur area of SECL.
Longwall retreating with caving using powered supports of about 500 T capacity is being
practised at this mine. The working depth is having a depth of around 50-60 m with a face
length of 150 m. Water was injected in boreholes at a depth of 28-29 m to weaken the stable
block and subsequent to that light intensity fall started taking place and face condition remained
normal (Bhati, 2003). Similar technique adopted in Moonee Colliery, Australia enabled the mine
management to regain the level of productivity after a temporary closure of mine there. Prior to
introduction of hydraulic fracturing, roof falls were highly variable and ranged in goaf area from
2,000 to 30,000 m2 with an average of around 7000 m2. Hydraulic fracturing has introduced
consistent and far less variable falls, averaging around 5000 m2 (Peter, 2000).

4.5 Other Possible Approaches


Acconex is a compound developed by Associated Cement Co., Mumbai, which when mixed with
potable water of 30% of its weight, expands and generates stress of 30 to 40 MPa in confined
condition. This has been used to break large boulders as a replacement of secondary blasting,
as well as tried in winning small opencast benches in soft formations, by pouring its mixture with
right quantity of water into boreholes of suitable diameter and length. The mixture expands and
exerts forces on the wall of the hole, thus initiating, widening and propagating cracks in
surrounding rocks. However, the mixture is to be used within 10 minutes of its preparation and
the depth of a hole should be 80 to 90% of the desired depth of breakage. The rate of reaction
depends on environmental conditions, rock types, etc. and the effects begin to manifest after 10
to 12 hours.

This technique has not yet been tried for controlled fragmentation of in situ roof rocks whether in
underground or from surface and is still at conceptual stage. However, the tests conducted at
CMRI, Dhanbad on sandstone boulders indicate that it is possible to generate good breakage in
all directions in high strength rocks by this process (Pal Roy, 1996). A sandstone boulder of
compressive strength of 55 MPa and tensile strength of 4 MPa was drilled with holes of depth
nearly 40% of the boulder width. Approximately 5 kg/tonne of Acconex was used and the action
started 18 hours after the pouring of the mixture and completed in 48 hours. The process seems
to hold a good possibility to find applications in induced caving.

The Nomogram
Of different options, stowing, particularly the hydraulic sand stowing version of it, is a proven
and well-known one, especially with reference to control of subsidence. However, as this system
is cumbersome, cost-intensive and hinders mining operation cycle reducing production and
productivity of the total system, it is not a desirable solution for hard roof management
nowadays. Constraints of availability of fill material (commonly river sand) and water sometimes
restrict the application of this system. However, fly ash (particularly bottom ash) has been
successfully tried to fill underground mine voids. Where fly ash is available in plenty, i.e. in the
vicinity of thermal power plants, and water is adequately available, stowing may be a techno-
economically viable proposition. In other cases, this option may be left beyond consideration.
Partial extraction of bord-&-pillar workings with splitting of pillars as the final operation,
sometimes followed by partial or complete backfilling of galleries and splits, is also a proved
method for subsidence control. However, for hard roof management this method should not be

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considered as it defies the basic principle of mineral conservation because of very poor (less
than 15 %) recovery.

Based on the review of the available techniques a nomogram has been formulated as shown in
Fig. 10 to deal with selection of appropriate induced caving technique. It is developed in two
steps; in the first step the selection of technically feasible solutions are made, and in the second
step the most economic alternative is identified by comparing the costs of the selected methods
if more than one choice is available.

Step 1: Selection of technically feasible induced caving techniques


After collection of necessary rock properties and other details, and reviewing existing induced
caving techniques a detailed comparison of existing conditions should be done with suitability of
each technique and technically appropriate technique should be selected as shown in Fig.10.
There may be more than one choice. An example is sited below to show how the selection is
made.
Example
Case study – Mine A

Let, RQD = 92 (rock quality is excellent)


Thickness of the strong bed = 15 m
Average Length of core = 15 cm
Uniaxial compressive strength = 35 MPa (350 kg/cm2)
n = 1.2
Thus,
I = (350x151.2x150.5)/5 = 6990
It implies that roof rock belongs to III category which is cavable with difficulty. Therefore, induced
caving is necessary.

Let, Tensile strength = 3 MPa


Poisson’s ratio = 0.25
Modulus of elasticity = 5 GPa
Depth of working = 280 m
Coal seam is not prone to spontaneous heating
Degree of gassiness = I
Rock loses its strength when saturated with water.
After going through this step 1, it can be said that induced caving by underground blasting or
high pressure water injection or chemical compound can be tried.

Step 2: Cost estimation and comparison


In this step, all technically feasible induced caving techniques from step 1 are economically
compared to arrive at a techno-economically feasible selection. In this comparison, overall cost
of manpower, explosive, drilling, pumping and other set up cost to induce caving of 1 m 3 of rock
with each selected technique are considered. In the example sited in the previous step two
techniques are found to be technically feasible, one having the minimum overall cost per m 3 of
caved rock is the techno-economically optimum technique.

Choice A: Underground blasting


As the amount of explosive to be used per hole is restricted, large number of hole are required
at goaf edges. These holes are drilled with usual coal drill and thus no additional set up is
required.

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Let, Number of holes = N
Length of hole = L
Cost of drilling per m, (Rs.) = X
Cost of explosive charge per hole, (Rs.) = Y
Cost of manpower, (Rs.) = Z
Total cost = C1= [(L × X × N) + (Y × N) + Z]
Caved rock quantity, (m3) = M
Comparable cost C1’ = M/C1

Choice B: High pressure water injection


It entails additional set up of pumps, sealing of holes and arrangement for taking water to the
workings.
Let, Number of holes = N’
The length of hole = L’
Cost of drilling per m, (Rs.) = X’
Cost of pumping water per hole (Rs.) = P
Cost of manpower, (Rs.) = Z’
Set up cost, (Rs.) = S
Total cost = C2= [(L’ × X’ × N’) + (P × N’) + Z’ + S]
Caved rock quantity, (m3) = M’
Comparable cost C2’ = M’/C2

Obviously, the choice which has minimum comparable cost should be considered to induce the
caving. Apart from this the third option i.e., use of chemical compound has never been tried to
break in situ rock mass. However, if established, use of chemical compound may be beneficial
at greater depth where water use may increase humidity in mines making working conditions
uncomfortable.

Conclusion
In a considerable number of Indian underground coal mines, roof rocks comprise of massive
sandstone that does not cave regularly on its own in goaf during coal winning and causes high
stress accumulation in roof and pillars. Finally, such a roof caves violently resulting in severe
overriding and air blasts. Number of accidents has taken place in the past and still, after
adopting induced caving techniques, weightings are experienced in working zones in many
mines, though its frequency and magnitude has reduced. Improvement of the existing technique
of underground blasting of goaf edge to make it more compatible to gassy conditions and to
develop other options is the need of the hour. This idea is further supported by the facts that day
by day coal mine workings are becoming deeper making backfilling more and more difficult and
uneconomic, sand and water for stowing being scarce, and Indian coal mining industry needs to
raise its production significantly to meet the upcoming energy demand.

While each induced caving technique is having its own limitations, some of them are suitable for
gassy mines and other for deep mines. It is obvious that any particular method may not be
suitable for all the cases. The nomogram presented in this paper is expected to guide step by
step, the selection of an appropriate technoeconomic technique among all for a given geomining
situation.

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Acknowledgement
The authors are grateful to Director, CMRI, Dhanbad, for his permission to publish this paper.
The authors are thankful to Dr. G. Banerjee & Mr. A. K. Ray, Scientists, CMRI, Dhanbad for their
support in preparation of this paper.

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Some Aspects of their Typical Behaviour, First National Conference on Ground Control in
Mining, Editor - S. K. Sarkar, India, 1995, pp. 3 – 19.
Sheorey, P.R, Barat, D, Mukherjee, K. P, Prasad, R. K, Das, M. N, Banerjee, G & Das, K. K.,
Application of the Yield Pillar Technique for Successful Depillaring under stiff strata, Int. J.
Rock Mech. Min. Sci. & Geomech, vol. 32, No. 7, 1995, pp. 669 - 708
Willian, J, Scoble, M & Pakalnis, V., Destressing Practice in Rockburst Prone Ground,
Proceedings Fourth Conference on Ground Control in Mining, Editors – S. S. Peng & J. H.
Kelley, West Virginia, July 22-24, 1985, pp 135-138

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Fig 1. Part plan of Parsacole east showing trial panels 8 A-E and locations of Remote Indicating
Stain Bars (RISB) and Convergence Indicator (RICI)

Fig 2. Vertical displacement with time in yield pillar

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Fig 3. Layout of Panel P – 1 at Rajendra Project, SECL

Goaf side Solid side


pillar A’ pillar

1.0

1.8 1.6

1.2
B’ B’

A’
Fig.4 Goaf edge blasting pattern for induced caving at Churcha west mine

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α = 450 - 550

α
α α
Roof
1.2 1.0 1.0 1.6
Goaf side Solid side pillar
pillar

Floor

Fig 4(a) Section B’B’

α = 450 - 550

α α α

Roof
1.8 1.8
1.8

Floor

Fig. 4 (b): Section A’A’

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Fig.5 Cumulative and daily convergence in induced blasting zone at 76L/26 X (15 m Dip)

Fig. 6 Location of holes drilled for water injection in 10 W extended panel at Churcha West
Mine, SECL

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Fig 8 Cumulative convergence in water injected and non-injected zone

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Fluid Pressure

Consolidation by compression
Inflatable Packer
Friction Shell

Fracture

Fracture
Fracture

Borehole (a) (b)


Fig.9 (a): Basic step pressurisation of borehole in Hydraulic Fracturing
(b) Single fracture developed by S-350 system
Decision to induce caving

By using explosive Using water or chemical


energy compound

Yes If depth ≤ 300 m Yes


Check if seam is highly gassy and
coal is prone to spontaneous heating No
Check if rock is
No porous and
permeable
No Check if lithology
and in situ stress
data is known Yes
Check if depth is
≥ 60 m High pressure water
Yes injection/ use of chemical
No compound with casing
No

Deep hole surface Caving by nderground Yes


blasting blasting Hydraulic fracturing Sleeve fracturing/ use of
chemical compound

Cost comparison of selected techniques

Detailed Design

Fig 9: Nomogram for the selection of techno-economically optimum technique of induced caving

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