Engineers Australia

Geotechnical support for open pit coal mining

John Simmons

Abstract

Geotechnical considerations for support of coal mining are described in this review, which is an updated version of an earlier review published in 1995. A thorough working knowledge of the geological environment and of modern coal mining operations is required to provide specialist geotechnical advice. The mining industry operates within a range of constraints and drivers that are quite different in some respects to those encountered in the wider geotechnical community that supports civil projects. Fundamental geotechnical requirements remain the same: a sound working knowledge of applicable geotechnical parameters and groundwater conditions and reliable analytical tools. Opportunities for data gathering are limited and much reliance is placed on experience, judgement and consideration of mine slope forming processes and the operating requirements of equipment. Principles for stability assessment of both rock and spoil slopes are outlined. The implications of modern risk management procedures are discussed along with future developments that are anticipated.