Understanding roof deformation mechanics and parametric sensitivities of coal mine entries using the discrete element method

G. Walton, R. Abousleiman, S. Sinha
International Journal of Mining Science and Technology
Analysis of roof bolt systems, Coal mine roof rating, Discrete element method, Discrete Fracture Network, Numerical modeling, Sensitivity analysis, Strain softening ubiquitous joints

Although conventional coal mine designs are conservative regarding pillar strength, local failures such as roof-falls and pillar bursts still affect mine safety and operations. Previous studies have identified that discontinuous, layered roof materials have some self-supporting capacity. This research is a preliminary step towards understanding these mechanics in coal-measure rocks. Although others have considered broad conceptual models and simplified analogs for mine roof behavior, this study presents a unique numerical model that more completely represents in-situ roof conditions. The discrete element method (DEM) is utilized to conduct a parametric analysis considering a range of in-situ stress ratios, material properties, and joint networks to determine the parameters controlling the stability of single-entries modeled in two-dimensions. Model results are compared to empirical observations of roof-support effectiveness (ARBS) in the context of the coal mine roof rating (CMRR) system. Results such as immediate roof displacement, overall stability, and statistical relationships between model parameters and outcomes are presented herein. Potential practical applications of this line of research include: (1) roof-support optimization for a range of coal-measure rocks, (2) establishment of a relationship between roof stability and pillar stress, and (3) determination of which parameters are most critical to roof stability and therefore require concentrated evaluation.

Keywords: Numerical modeling, Discrete element method, Coal mine roof rating, Analysis of roof bolt systems, Sensitivity analysis, Strain softening ubiquitous joints, Discrete fracture network

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