Welcome to SCT's own publications library which contains a collection of recent publications and other resources with reliable research about our technology.
Definitions of Measured Hydraulic Conductivity Zones above a Longwall PanelPublished Jun, 2022This paper presents the results of a field investigation to determine zones of hydraulic conductivity above an extracted longwall panel at United Colliery in the Hunter Valley of NSW. The hydraulic conductivity zones were determined from targeted boreholes drilled into the subsided strata above the goaf of Longwall 10, an isolated panel with a supercritical width panel geometry. Five boreholes defined the edge of caving and characterised the hydraulic conductivity within and above the caved zone. The deepest hole in the centre of the goaf was drilled to 30m above the extracted seam, providing hydraulic conductivity data through most of the subsided overburden strata. Definitions-of-Measured-Hydraulic-Conductivity-Zones-above-a-Longwall-Panel-YHeritage-MSTS-2022.pdf901 KB
Measurement of the height of depressurisation and fracturing above a longwall panelPublished Feb, 2024This paper presents the findings of a program of work to determine the height of mining induced fracturing and the height of groundwater depressurisation above a longwall panel. The program of work utilised two fully cored boreholes drilled from surface at Tahmoor Colliery, located southwest of Sydney in the Southern Coalfields in New South Wales. The boreholes were drilled adjacent to and over a subcritical longwall panel, one before and one after extraction of the longwall panel. Measurement-of-the-height-of-depressurisation-and-fracturing-above-a-longwall-panel-BBlacka-and-ARippon-2024.pdf1.7 MB
The Role of Gas Pressure in Coal Bursts Winton Gale 2018Published Aug, 2018Rock and coal fractures and micro seismic vibration are common occurrences during development mining. It is very uncommon for coal and rock to be propelled into the roadway during normal mining operations. However, such occurrences do occur and appear to require significantly more energy than is available from strain energy release during coal cutting. The sources of energy, which can contribute to the propulsion of coal from the face or ribs, are typically strain energy from the surrounding ground, seismic energy from a rapid rupture of the ground in the vicinity, or rapid expansion of gas from within the burst source area.
The aim of this paper is to briefly review the bursts that could be related to strain energy or seismic energy. However, the greatest emphasis is placed on the effect that gas within the coal could play in moderate to gassy mines.
It has been found that the bursts related to the expansion of gas can occur in coal and stone. The volume of gas involved in coal bursts is typically lower than in gas outbursts; however, the process is generally similar. The-Role-of-Gas-Pressure-in-Coal-Bursts-Winton-Gale-2018.pdf4.2 MB
Monitoring and Measuring Hydraulic Fracturing Growth During Preconditioning of a Roof Rock over a Coal Longwall Panel - Rob Jeffrey - Ken MillsPublished Mar, 2018Narrabri Coal Operations is longwall mining coal directly below a 15 to 20 m thick conglomerate sequence expected to be capable of producing a windblast upon first caving at longwall startup and producing periodic weighting during regular mining. Site characterisation and field trials were undertaken to evaluate hydraulic fracturing as a method to precondition the conglomerate strata sufficiently to promote normal caving behaviour at longwall startup and reduce the severity of periodic weighting. This paper presents the results of the trials and illustrates the effectiveness of hydraulic fracturing as a preconditioning technique.
Initial work was directed at determining if hydraulic fractures were able to be grown with a horizontal orientation, which would allow efficient preconditioning of the rock mass by placing a number of fractures at different depths through the conglomerate from vertical boreholes drilled from the surface. The measurements and trials were designed to determine the in situ principal stresses, the hydraulic fracture orientation and growth rate, and whether the fractures could be extended as essentially parallel fractures to a radius of at least 30 m. Overcore stress measurements were used to determine the orientation and magnitude of the in situ principal stresses, a surface tiltmeter array was used to determine the hydraulic fracture orientation, and stress change monitoring, pressure monitoring and temperature logging in offset boreholes were used to establish the fracture growth rate, lateral extent, and that the fractures maintained their initial spacing to a radial distance of greater than 30 metres. The measurements and trials demonstrated that horizontal fractures could be extended parallel to one another to a distance of 30 to 50 m by injection of 5,000 to 15,000 litres of water at a rate of 400 to 500 L/min. Results from the trial allowed a preconditioning plan to be developed and successfully implemented. Monitoring-and-Measuring-Hydraulic-Fracturing-Growth-During-Preconditioning-of-a-Roof-Rock-over-a-Coal-Longwall-Panel-R.Jeffrey-K.Mills-2018.pdf1.8 MB
Validation of a Subsidence Prediction Approach of Combined Modelling and Empirical Methods - Yvette HeritagePublished Nov, 2017Subsidence prediction is often required outside the limits of empirical databases where we look to other methods to expand our understanding of overburden caving and subsidence effects. Computer modelling, through simulation of rock failure and
overburden caving, provides a means to extrapolate beyond current experience and to investigate other aspects of caving processes that are becoming increasingly important; aspects such as multi-seam interactions, irregular overburden geologies and groundwater interactions.
This paper describes examples and a range of useful outcomes from modelling simulations of rock failure and overburden caving to illustrate how modelling is being used to extend understanding of multi-seam mining scenarios, irregular overburden geology, “greenfield” mining areas, increasing overburden depths and the requirement to understand overburden fracture formation and vertical hydraulic connectivity. A case study from the Bowen Basin is used as an example of the value of combining modelling and an empirical approach to improve subsidence prediction and provide validation and calibration of the prediction methodologies for future subsidence prediction. Validation-of-a-Subsidence-Prediction-Approach-of-Combined-Modelling-and-Empirical-Methods-Y.Heritage2017.pdf2.5 MB
Connectivity of Mining Induced Fractures Below Longwall Panels A Modelling Approach - Yvette Heritage - Winton Gale - Adrian RipponPublished Feb, 2017Gas make into active longwall panels is an important issue in ventilation and gas drainage design. A method of simulating the mining induced fracture network and associated increase in hydraulic conductivity is a necessity for improved mine design, hazard management planning and gas drainage efficiency. This paper identifies and illustrates the key components in determining the connectivity of lower gas sources to an active goaf. Computer modelling identifies the formation of cyclic fractures that form below the longwall face and extend down back below the goaf. These cyclic fractures form when the stress conditions are high enough and the strata properties allow for shear failure to extend down through the strata.
The mining induced fracture formation and stress redistribution creates increased hydraulic conductivity of the floor strata below the active goaf. The stress redistribution and fracture volume also reduce the pore pressure below the goaf, allowing gas desorption to occur from lower seams. The combination of gas desorption and increased hydraulic conductivity allows gas connectivity from gas sources below the seam to the active goaf. A monitoring program at a NSW mine as part of ACARP Project C23009 allowed for preliminary validation of the concepts illustrated from the computer modelling. Preliminary field gas flow measurements are within the range of connectivity expectations based on rock failure modelling of longwall extraction. This report presents the first validation results for the modelling approach presented in this paper. Further results from ACARP Project C23009 on optimisation of gas drainage will follow in future publications. Connectivity-of-mining-induced-fractures-below-longwall-panels-A-Modelling-Approach-Y.Heritage-W.Gale-A.Rippon-2017.pdf1.3 MB
In-Situ Stress Measurements and Stress Change Monitoring to Monitor Overburden Caving Behaviour and Hydraulic Fracture Pre-Conditioning - Jesse Puller, Ken Mills, Rob JeffreyPublished Jul, 2015A coal mine in New South Wales is longwall mining 300 m wide panels at a depth of 160–180 m directly below a 16–20 m thick conglomerate strata. As part of a strategy to use hydraulic fracturing to manage
potential windblast and periodic caving hazards associated with these conglomerate strata, the in-situ stresses in the conglomerate were measured using ANZI strain cells and the overcoring method of stress relief. Changes in stress associated with abutment loading and placement of hydraulic fractures were also measured using ANZI strain cells installed from the surface and from underground. Overcore stress measurements have indicated that the vertical stress is the lowest principal stress so that hydraulic fractures
placed ahead of mining form horizontally and so provide effective pre-conditioning to promote caving of the conglomerate strata. Monitoring of stress changes in the overburden strata during longwall retreat was undertaken at two different locations at the mine. The monitoring indicated stress changes were evident 150 m ahead of the longwall face and abutment loading reached a maximum increase of about 7.5 MPa. The stresses ahead of mining change gradually with distance to the approaching longwall and in a direction consistent with the horizontal in-situ stresses. There was no evidence in the stress change monitoring results to indicate significant cyclical forward abutment loading ahead of the face. The forward abutment load determined from the stress change monitoring is consistent with the weight of overburden
strata overhanging the goaf indicated by subsidence monitoring. In-Situ-Stress-Measurements-and-Stress-Change-Monitoring-to-Monitor-Overburden-Caving-Behaviour-and-Hydraulic-Fracture-Pre-Conditioning-Jesse-Puller-Ken-Mills-Rob-Jeffrey-2015.pdf1.8 MB
Analytical Procedure to Estimate the Horizontal Anisotropy of Hydraulic Conductivity in Coal Seams - Winton Gale - Mahdi ZoorabadiPublished Feb, 2015The horizontal hydraulic conductivity anisotropy of coal seams is a controlling parameter for designing gas drainage boreholes. The ratio between the maximum and minimum horizontal hydraulic conductivity (RkH-kh) and the orientation of maximum horizontal conductivity defines this anisotropy in horizontal plane.
This paper presents a new analytical procedure based on the field stress data and geometrical properties of coal cleats to calculate these two parameters. The application of this procedure for a real case in Eastern of Australia resulted in an average ratio of 20.9 for RkH-kh and orientation of NE for maximum horizontal conductivity. The comparison between these results with the measured values validated the accuracy of proposed procedure to estimate the anisotropy of horizontal hydraulic conductivity of coal seams. Analytical-Procedure-to-Estimate-the-Horizontal-Anisotropy-of-Hydraulic-Conductivity-in-Coal-Seams-W.Gale-M.Zoorabadi-2015.pdf377 KB
Investigation into Abnormal Surface Subsidence Above Longwall Panel Southern Coalfield - Winton GalePublished Jan, 2011The subsidence over a longwall panel at Tahmoor Mine in the Southern Coalfield of NSW, Australia, was found to be approximately twice the size it had been in previous measurements. An investigation into the potential causes was conducted using computer modeling together with hydrological characterization and detailed geotechnical characterization of the strata.
The abnormal subsidence was found to be consistent with localized weathering of joint and bedding planes above a depressed water table adjacent to an incised gorge. The study showed that other factors such as variation in stress field, joint zones, variation
in rock strength and topographic factors did have sufficient impact to induce the abnormal subsidence.
The results have significant implications to subsidence prediction in areas that may be prone to the phenomenon found at Tahmoor. Key indicators of the potential for this form of abnormal subsidence are presented. Investigation-into-Abnormal-Surface-Subsidence-Above-LW-Panel-Southern-Coalfield-2011.pdf2.6 MB
Using Helium as a Tracer Gas to Measure Vertical Overburden Conductivity Above Extraction Panels - Yvette Heritage - Winton GalePublished Feb, 2009This paper investigates helium injection into the goaf as a tool to measure goaf to surface connectivity. Laboratory studies confirmed a relationship between gas velocity and fracture conductivity through helium injection. Field trials of helium injection into the goaf were successfully conducted to determine whether a connection exists between the surface and the goaf. A repeatable technique of borehole helium injection, with a borehole drilled into the highly permeable caved zone of the goaf, proved to demonstrate more quickly whether a connection to the surface exists. Using-Helium-as-a-Tracer-Gas-to-Measure-Vertical-Overburden-Conductivity-Above-Extraction-Panels-Y.Heritage-W.Gale-2009.pdf281 KB
An Investigation into Underground Mine Interaction with Overlying Aquifers Huntly, East Mine, New Zealand - Winton Gale - Published 2006Published Feb, 2006In recent years, Huntly East Mine has operated at a depth range of approximately 100 m to 220 m below a Quaternary aged clay, sand and silt aquifer that is connected to a nearby large river system (Waikato River). A key issue for mine planning and environmental management has been the development of mine design criteria to allow efficient mining of the reserves and to maintain the integrity of the aquifer.
A case study and back analysis at Huntly East Mine is presented, which investigates the overburden conductivity and the impacts caused by mining-induced caving. The case study includes: i. computer modelling of the mine geometry, caving and overburden fracture networks created; ii. field investigation to develop an engineering geological model of the overburden within the goaf to validate the goaf geometry as defined by the computer generated model; iii. in situ field measurement of overburden conductivity in the pre- and post-mining condition; iv. interference testing across the goaf to determine the level of interconnectivity; and v. measured water pressure profiles above the mine. An-Investigation-into-Underground-Mine-Interaction-with-Overlying-Aquifers-Huntly-East-Mine-New-Zealand-W.Gale.pdf822 KB
Water Inflow Issues above Longwall Panels - Winton Gale - published 2006Published Feb, 2006The aim of this paper is to discuss the issues which relate to surface water inflow through the fractured overburden above longwall panels. The information used is a combination of field experience and computer modeling. Computer models used in this study simulate the fracture process in the geological units throughout the overburden. Analysis of the mining induced fracture patterns and in situ joint patterns allows an estimation of the hydraulic conductivity within the overburden. The cubic flow relationship has been used in examples presented. Water-Inflow-Issues-above-Longwall-Panels-W.Gale.pdf267 KB
Developing Methods for Placing Sand Propped Hydraulic Fractures for Gas Drainage in the Bulli Seam - Ken Mills - Published 2006Published Feb, 2006BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal is seeking ways to significantly increase gas capture rates from in seam drilling programs in its underground coal mining operations. Hydraulic Fracture Technology (HFT), a joint venture between SCT Operations Pty Ltd and CSIRO Petroleum, is working with Illawarra Coal to develop the capability to enhance gas drainage rates in the Bulli Seam using sand-propped hydraulic fracturing based on HFT’s experience at Dartbrook Mine where gas drainage rates were increased by 5 to 180 times. One of the principal challenges for implementing sand-propped hydraulic fracturing in the Bulli Seam is the high vertical stresses that cause borehole breakout in horizontal holes drilled in coal. Borehole breakout effectively precludes the use of open hole straddle packers which are a convenient tool for placing multiple sand-propped hydraulic fractures in in-seam holes.
Results of an initial six week trial undertaken at Douglas Project pit-bottom are described, which is aimed to developing the capability to install, grout and perforate casing so that straddle packers can be used for sand-propped hydraulic fracturing in overstressed boreholes. The primary goals of the pitbottom trial at Douglas were to confirm that horizontal boreholes in Bulli coal at 500 m overburden depth are overstressed and unsuitable for use of open hole straddle packers, and to establish a method for installing, cementing and slotting casing so that straddle packers can be used to place hydraulic fractures. Both these goals were successfully achieved. Developing-Methods-for-Placing-Sand-Propped-Hydraulic-Fractures-for-Gas-Drainage-in-the-Bulli-Seam-K.Mills.pdf738 KB
Application of Computer Modelling in the Understanding of Caving and Induced Hydraulic Conudctivity About Longwall Panels - Winton Gale - Published 2005Published Feb, 2005Computer modelling is being used to simulate rock fracture, caving and stress redistribution about longwall panels with increasing confidence. The models are being assessed against field monitoring and have significantly increased the understanding of caving mechanics within the overburden. This paper discusses the modelling approach and provides some examples of its application to overburden damage and induced hydraulic conductivity. Computer models used in this study simulate the fracture process in the geological units throughout the overburden. Analysis of the mining induced fracture patterns and in situ joint patterns allows an estimation of the hydraulic conductivity within the overburden. The cubic flow relationship has been used in the examples presented. Application-of-Computer-Modelling-in-the-Understanding-of-Caving-and-Induced-Hydraulic-Conudctivity-About-Longwall-Panels-W.Gale.pdf271 KB
Computer Simulation of Ground Behaviour and Rock Bolt Interaction at Emerald Mine - Winton Gale - Published 2004Published Feb, 2004A collaborative project between RAG Emerald Mine, NIOSH, and SCT Operations was conducted to investigate ground behaviour, reinforcement performance, and stress redistribution in a coal mine entry subjected to a severe horizontal stress concentration. Field measurements indicated that the stresses applied to the study site nearly doubled during longwall mining, resulting in roof deformations extending to a height of 4.8 m (16 ft) above the entry.
This paper focuses on the computer simulation that was undertaken to provide more insight into the roof behaviour and rock bolt interaction during mining. The model’s input rock properties were derived from extensive laboratory testing, and the model itself simulated a broad range of failure mechanisms. The effects of different bolt patterns on roadway behaviour were evaluated. Comparison between the model results and the field measurements indicated that that the model effectively simulated the critical elements of the actual roadway’s behaviour. With the confidence gained, the model was used as a baseline for additional simulations that evaluated the expected performance of alternative roof support systems. The study will also provide a benchmark data set for future applications of numerical modelling to U.S. coal underground mining. Computer-Simulation-of-Ground-Behaviour-and-Rock-Bolt-Interaction-at-Emerald-Mine-Winton-Gale.pdf697 KB
Applications of Hydraulic Fracturing to Control Caving Events in Coal Mines - The Moonee Experience - Ken MillsPublished Jan, 2002Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of high pressure fluid into a rock mass to form one or more fractures. Fractures are oriented perpendicular to the lowest principal stress acting at the time of injection. Hydraulic fractures can be extended considerable distances from one or more boreholes oriented in any convenient direction. The technique offers a method to control caving related phenomena such as inducement of caving, control of periodic weighting, initiation of first goaf fall, and preconditioning of longwall takeoff areas. This paper describes the successful application of hydraulic fracturing to control windblast hazard at Moonee Colliery and opportunities that emerge for other applications.
Moonee Colliery extracts the lower 3m of the Great Northern seam using a 100m wide longwall panel. A 35m thick conglomerate strata immediately overlying the seam is able to temporarily bridge across the panel so that the goaf does not immediately cave.
When the conglomerate strata does eventually fall, the bottom 10-15m collapses more or less as a single mass over an area 50-300m long by the full 100m panel width. The windblasts generated by these events present a very significant hazard to men working on the longwall face.
Hydraulic fracturing has been successfully introduced at Moonee Colliery as a method to induce caving events “on demand”. The men are evacuated from the longwall face area prior to commencement of the hydraulic fracture treatment. After a treatment typically
lasting 15 minutes to 2 hours, a goaf fall event is usually initiated and mining can be recommenced with the windblast hazard eliminated.
The work at Moonee is believed to be the first successful use of hydraulic fracturing to induce caving events in Australia. Infusing water to weaken rock and small-scale hydraulic fracturing, ahead of or over longwall panels, has been tried previously in Australia and South Africa. Infusion is currently being used in China. Hydraulic fracturing has also been used in Poland to condition the roof over new panels and to modify the stiffness of rock around mine openings to reduce rock burst hazards. The application of hydraulic fracturing, described in this paper, to control the timing of caving events has not
been used before.
The technique also offers the potential to control periodic weighting events, induce caving at longwall startup, precondition pre-driven longwall take-off roads and take control of caving in other situations where it would be desirable to induce the goaf to cave. Application-of-Hydraulic-Fracturing-to-Control-Caving-Events-in-Coal-Mines-Ken-Mills-2002.pdf1.1 MB
Caving Induced by Hydraulic Fracturing at North Parkes Mine - Rob Jeffrey - Published 2000Published Feb, 2000This paper describes the first use of hydraulic fracturing for cave inducement in a block caving mine. As of September 1999, several hundred hydraulic fracture treatments have been performed at Northparkes and are attributed with inducing about 7 million tonnes of ore to cave. Caving-Induced-by-Hydraulic-Fracturing-at-North-Parkes-Mine-R.Jeffrey.pdf267 KB
Remote High Resolution Stress Change Monitoring of Hydraulic Fractures - Ken Mills - Rob JeffreyPublished Aug, 2017This paper describes the use of strain gauge based borehole instruments to monitor stress changes associated with the creation and extension of hydraulic fractures in massive rock strata at Northparkes Mine in Australia and Salvador Mine in Chile. This work was conducted as part of the International Caving Study ICSII.
These instruments proved very sensitive to the stress changes induced by the hydraulic fractures close to the fracture plane. Analysis of the stress changes observed allowed the fracture orientation and non-symmetric fracture growth to be constrained sufficiently that a clearer insight into fracture behaviour could be obtained at both sites, particularly when combined with other observations. Recognition of the elastic stress reorientation about an opening mode hydraulic fracture has proved to be an important element in the interpretation of stress change monitoring data.
The nature of the stress reorientation is useful in discriminating between opening and shearing mode fracture growth. A technique of identifying a range of possible solutions of fracture orientation and non-symmetric fracture growth consistent with the stress changes observed on multiple instruments has been developed. Unique definition of fracture orientation from the stress change instruments is possible if the instruments are sufficiently distributed relative to the hydraulic fracture plane. Remote-High-Resolution-Stress-Change-Monitoring-of-Hydraulic-Fractures-K.Mills-R.Jeffrey.pdf1 MB
Review and Estimation of the Hydraulic Conductivity of the Overburden Above Longwall Panels. Experience from Australia - Winton GalePublished Aug, 2017The aim of this paper is to summarise the results and conclusions of Australian Coal Association Research Project (ACARP) Report C13013 which relate to water inflows into a mine which occur through the overburden above and adjacent to longwall panels. The study assessed available data of inflows into underground coal mines and utilised computer simulation of water flow through fracture networks.
The study concluded that flow into mines is typically via an interconnected network of pre existing and mining induced fractures. The height above the coal seam that mining induced fractures extend is typically related to the width of the panel. However the potential for those fractures to form a connected network which can facilitate flow, is related to the amount of subsidence and the depth of mining. The study compares model simulations with measured data and provides guidelines to estimate the average hydraulic conductivity of the overburden above extracted longwall panels in Australia. Review-and-Estimation-of-the-Hydraulic-Conductivity-of-the-Overburden-Above-Longwall-Panels.-Experience-from-Australia-W.Gale.pdf952 KB
Hydraulic Fracturing to Induce Caving: Fracture Model Development and Comparison to Field Data - Rob Jeffrey - Ken MillsPublished Aug, 2017Hydraulic fracturing is used at Moonee Colliery to induce caving as part of the routine operation of this longwall mine. Measurements undertaken to successfully introduce hydraulic fracturing to Moonee and pressure records routinely obtained from each treatment provide a unique opportunity to develop and test a new model of hydraulic fracture growth near a free surface. This paper presents the results of the comparison for several fracture treatments, demonstrating that the model is able to match the treatment data. Hydraulic-Fracturing-to-Induce-Caving-Fracture-Model-Development-Comparison-to-Field-Data-R.Jeffrey-K.Mills.pdf395 KB