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In underground coal mining any increase in coal recovery rate is dependent on a decrease in pillar size. Backfilling is one way of reducing the required size of pillars and hence the volume of coal left underground. Therefore any comparisons made between a self-supported mine layout and backfill supported mine layout are based directly on pillar design. The most effective way to examine the effect of backfill on pillar support, and subsequently the rate of recovery, would be to incorporate the mechanisms of backfill support directly into the current design procedure for coal pillars. This paper presents a review of the mechanics of backfill support, a method of estimating the magnitude of that support based on earth pressure theory, and an example that incorporates backfill support into current coal pillar design.