18th Conference on Ground Control in Mining, Morgantown, West Virginia, 3–5 August 1999
Authors: A. M. Richardson, J. F. T. Agapito, and L. J. Gilbride (AAI)
The trona mines in the Green River Basin, commonly known as the “trona patch,” present an interesting set of rock mechanics issues stemming from mining in a unique underground environment. Like other minerals occurring in tabular deposits, trona is mined using high-productivity room-and-pillar and longwall methods. However, trona does not behave quite like other evaporites and behaves far differently than coal. In this paper, the following key issues in trona patch rock mechanics are discussed: material properties, in situ stress field, water and gas pressure effects, creep characteristics, pillar behavior, roof span stability, floor stability, underground tailings storage, longwall mining, two-seam mining, and solution mining. Many of the existing trona producers are entering potentially more difficult mining conditions, and much consideration is being given to “new” technologies such as longwall mining and solution mining. In analyzing 20 years of experience with trona patch rock mechanics issues, the authors have identified key comparisons and contrasts with conventional tabular deposit rock mechanics that will help illuminate what has been learned as the trona patch enters the 21st century.
Downloadable PDF: Rock Mechanics Issues in the Trona Patch