Chain pillar design - can we?
In the ten years since the University of NSW proposed a pillar design methodology for bord and pillar operations, the Australian coal mining industry has changed substantially. What was primarily a bord and pillar design approach is now being applied to chain pillar design in longwall mines where the requirements are substantially different. The dimensions of chain pillars can impact on tailgate conditions (roof, rib and floor), seal performance, and surface subsidence. The status of chain pillar design practice in Australia is reviewed, with a focus on defining pillar strength, chain pillar loading, and assessing the performance of the roof/pillar/system. A new pillar strength equation is proposed for Australian coal that applies for all width/height ratios. An alternative analysis of probability of failure of chain pillars is presented.