Polymer-based alternative to steel mesh for coal mine strata reinforcement
The University of Wollongong in collaboration with the Australian coal mining industry has shown that a viable polymer-based alternative to steel mesh in underground roadway support applications can be developed to eliminate the use and handling of steel mesh. The feasibility of developing polymeric alternatives to steel mesh in underground roadway support applications has been established, the physical and material constraints to be endured by any new polymeric skin reinforcement system have been identified by measuring the mechanical properties of steel mesh, and materials that can be spray-applied have been identified. The study has also shown that polymer mechanical properties can be optimised to produce similar mechanical properties (modulus, yield stress, elongation-at-break etc) to steel mesh. The identified materials will allow the face support cycle to be fully automated, or at least remotely operated and installed, enabling the removal of personnel from the immediate face area, thus contributing to a projected substantial improvement in underground roadway development rates.