Random kinetic energy induced from strain energy stored in mining structures can distribute the stresses in rock masses. This physical transformation from potential to kinetic energy can lead to a severe coal burst which can be highly damaging. An efficient tool that can evaluate this stress distribution can play an important role in the design and planning of coal pillars and mine layouts. This paper presents a novel three-dimensional finite element modelling methodology (3D FEM) that has been developed to determine the structural response of a pillar subjected to kinetic energy release. This methodology can be used to determine the areas where a pillar is susceptible to violent, uncontrolled failure as well as to study the structural responses of a coal pillar. As part of the study a parametric study of combination of softening parameters in both coal and coal/rock interface was conducted to determine critical regions in the pillars that may lead to a better design strategy in coal burst prone mines.