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Geological and geotechnical aspects of underground coal mining methods within Australia

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About one quarter of the coal produced in Australia is by underground mining methods. The most commonly used underground coal mining methods in Australia are longwall, and room and pillar. This paper provides a detailed review of the two methods, including their advantages and disadvantages, the major geotechnical and operational issues, and the factors that need to be considered regarding their choice, including the varying geological and geotechnical conditions suited to a particular method. Factors and issues such as capital cost, productivity, recovery, versatility and mine safety associated with the two methods are discussed and compared. The major advantages of the longwall mining method include its suitability for mining at greater depth, higher recovery, and higher production rate compared to room and pillar. The main disadvantages of the room and pillar method are the higher risks of roof and pillar collapse, higher capital costs incurred as well as lower recovery rate.

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Correspondence to P. G. Ranjtih.

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Scott, B., Ranjtih, P.G., Choi, S.K. et al. Geological and geotechnical aspects of underground coal mining methods within Australia. Environ Earth Sci 60, 1007–1019 (2010).

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