2001 SME Annual Meeting & Exhibit, Denver, Colorado, February 2001
Mining Engineering, November 2003

Authors: J. F. T. Agapito and R. R. Goodrich (AAI)

Yield pillars have been used for many years to help reduce stresses near mine openings and improve roof and floor stability. A yield pillar is often defined as a pillar that fails but retains residual strength. Stress transfer occurs through the roof and floor after the peak strength of the pillar is reached. High stresses are transferred from around the openings onto abutments that can be barrier pillars or unmined ground. This mechanism, often referred to as pressure arching, is possible as long as the width of yield pillars is less than the critical width above which stresses cannot be carried by the overburden.

Significant stress transfer also can occur due to small amounts of pillar and/or floor yielding before the peak strength is reached. This is accomplished in a quasi-elastic manner with little or no visible roof and pillar fracturing or floor heave. Long-term stability may be achieved when stresses and mechanical properties are favorable to pre-failure yielding.

This paper gives practical examples where improvements in stability and resource recovery were achieved with this mechanism. Yielding was assessed by comparing measured and calculated vertical pillar stresses. Results indicated that calculated stresses in the pillars were 25 to 40 percent higher than the measured stresses, demonstrating significant arching load transfer to the abutments. Pre-failure yielding is probably often present but unintentional in both development and production areas. Better recognition and use of this mechanism should lead to improved designs as mines become deeper.
Downloadable PDF:  Prefailure Pillar Yielding

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