Risk considerations for crown pillar stability assessment for mine closure planning

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Evaluation of the long-term surface stability of crown pillars overlying underground mines is an important component of mine closure planning. The definition of a crown pillar, as well as a brief discussion of the assessment of the probability and consequence of crown pillar failure are given in this paper. Techniques for stability assessment using mechanistic, empirical and numerical simulation techniques are discussed. Consequence assessment is discussed, but is still subjective and difficult to quantify. Where crown pillars are suspected to be marginally stable or unstable either at the time of the investigation or over the long term, and where the consequence of failure is medium to high, the closure plan for the site must include proposed rehabilitation alternatives. Selection of the optimum solution depends largely upon financial considerations, but also upon the common public expectation that the result of mine closure planning be a ‘permanent’ solution that does not restrict public access or future land use on the site.

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