19th Conference on Ground Control in Mining, Morgantown, West Virginia, August 8–10, 2000
Authors: F. S. Kendorski (AAI)
Underground stone mines for construction aggregates and industrial minerals are being planned in increasing numbers throughout the United States. At the middle of the last century (1950s) underground stone mines were much more common, and characteristically had no thorough site characterization other than proving reserves and trial-and-error planning. Ground control employed was minimal. Consequently, there was a tendency to conduct minimal pre-mining studies. However, the deposits that lend themselves to little site characterization and minimal ground control are few today, with the best being mined out. Failures of a number of underground stone or similar mines from that era are more common than realized. Underground stone mines almost always use some combinations of square or rectangular pillars, sized to support the overburden load, and spaced to allow the use of larger, more-efficient equipment. Heights are controlled by the available stone quality, interbeds of waste, or technological or safety considerations. Prior to committing to a specific mine plan with subsequent significant capital investment, and prior to having available the wealth of knowledge and experience gained once mining underground, a safe and workable mine layout must be achieved. Early attention to the several different rock units involved (roof, mine level, floor) and their strength as a rock mass with the inherent discontinuities, will allow first approximations of acceptable mine geometries and sequencing.