Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Carras, JN, Day, S, Saghafi, A and Roberts, OC, Spontaneous Combustion in Open Cut Coal Mines — Recent Australian Research, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 2005: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2005, 195-200.


The control of spontaneous combustion in spoil piles is an area of concern for a number of open cut coal mines. Spontaneous combustion in spoil may occur when carbonaceous waste materials are exposed to air. In large piles, the relatively high voidage within the pile may allow sufficient movement of air through the pile to sustain oxidation and heat generation. Over the past decade, ACARP and CSIRO have funded a number of projects aimed at providing a better understanding of the causes of spontaneous combustion in spoil piles and the development of control strategies. Work has focused on prevention measures but has also considered measures available to deal with well-developed fires. Field, laboratory and numerical modelling methods have been brought to bear on the issues. Individual projects have addressed: • causes of spontaneous combustion including the relative reactivities of mine waste materials; • the use of cover layers to prevent spontaneous combustion; • the use of flyash grout to control an active fire; • the emissions of air pollutants; and • the emission of greenhouse gases. This paper provides a description of the work carried out to date with an emphasis on the major findings of the research and its application to open cut mines.