Room and Pillar Design and Construction for Underground Coal Mining in Greece

  • Michail TzalamariasEmail author
  • Ioannis Tzalamarias
  • Andreas Benardos
  • Vassilis Marinos
Original Paper


The underground mining is the only potential way for the utilization of the lignite reserves from an open pit exploitation which could remain unexploited due to high stripping ratios. This paper is dealing with the findings of a pilot scale underground exploitation that was developed in the Prosilio open pit coal mine in Northern Greece. The method used is the room and pillar mining method where the initial entry galleries are driven into the coal seam starting from the surface excavation face, as used in the highwall mining cases. The design of the mining scheme is presented in detail along with the building of the 3D numerical model which simulates the overall development of the pilot mine. The evaluation of the stability conditions is further discussed and analysed with the use of the results of the numerical model and through their validation with the findings and observations of the actual excavation’s response. The mine scheme selected exhibited its flexibility in coping with the prevailing conditions and its performance, in terms of the stability conditions attained, further supporting the development of a large scale underground coal excavation.


Underground coal mining Mine design 3D FEA Open pit to underground 



The authors would like to acknowledge the help of METE S.A. in the development of the paper and for allowing the publication of the data.


  1. Bieniawski ZT (1992) A method revisited: coal pillar strength formula base on field investigations. Proc Workshop Coal Pillar Mech Des BuMines IC 9315:158–165Google Scholar
  2. Deliveris AV, Benardos A (2017) Evaluating performance of lignite pillars with 2D approximation techniques and 3D numerical analyses. Int J Min Sci Technol 27(6):929–936CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Du X, Lu J, Morsy K, Peng S (2008) Coal pillar design formulae review and analysis. In: Proceedings of the 27th international conference on ground coal pillar design formulae review and analysisGoogle Scholar
  4. EURACOAL (2017) EURACOAL market report 2017 no. 2, European Association for Coal and Lignite. Accessed Nov 2017
  5. Greenwald HP, Howarth HC, Hartman I (1941) Experiments on the strength of small pillars in the Pittsburgh bed. Technical Report. U.S. Bureau of Mines, R.I 3575. Wasington DCGoogle Scholar
  6. Hoek E, Caranza-Torres C, Corkum B (2002) Hoek–Brown criterion—2002 edition. In: Proceedings of NARMS-TAC conference, Toronto, vol 1, pp 267–273Google Scholar
  7. Holland CT (1964) The strength of coal in mine pillars. In: Proceedings of 6th US symposium on rock mechanics (USRMS)Google Scholar
  8. Hustrulid WA (1976) A review of coal pillar strength formulas. Rock Mech 8(2):115–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Loui Porathuir J, Pal Roy P, Shen B, Karekal S (2017) Highwall mining—application, design and safety. CRC Press, Rotterdam, p 2017CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lunder P, Pakalnis P (1997) Determination of the strength of Hard-Rock Mine Pillars. CIMM Bull 90(1013):51–55Google Scholar
  11. Luo Y (2014) Highwall mining: design methodology, safety and suitability. Coal and Energy Research Bureau (CERB) final report no. 2014-004, West Virginia University, p 34Google Scholar
  12. Madden BJ (1996) Coal pillar design procedures. Safety in mines research controlling committee. Report project COL337, JohannesburgGoogle Scholar
  13. Marinos P, Hoek E (2000) GSI: a geologically friendly tool for rock-mass strength estimation. In: Proceedings of GeoEng2000 at the international conference on geotechnical and geological engineering, Melbourne. Technomic Publishers, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, pp 1422–1446Google Scholar
  14. Mark C (1999) The state-of-the-art in coal pillar design. SME Trans 308:8 (originally preprint 99-86) Google Scholar
  15. Mark C (2006) The evolution of intelligent coal pillar design: 1981–2006. In: Proceedings of 25th international conference on ground control in mining, August 1–3, 2006. Morgantown, West Virginia, pp 325–334Google Scholar
  16. Mo S, Zhang C, Canbulat Hagan P (2016) A review of highwall mining experience and practice. In: Proceedings of 16th coal operators’ conference, mining engineering, University of Wollongong, 10–12 February 2016, pp 522–530Google Scholar
  17. Mohan GM, Sheorey P, Kushwaha A (2001) Numerical estimation of pillar strength in coal mines. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 38:1185–1192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Obert L, Duvall, WI (1967) Rock mechanics and the design of structures in rock. WileyGoogle Scholar
  19. PPC (2010) Extracting the light: memories and images of lignite. Greek Public Power Corporation, AthensGoogle Scholar
  20. Salamon MDG, Munro AH (1967) A study of the strength of coal pillars. J S Afr Inst Min Metal 68(4):55–67Google Scholar
  21. Shen J, Karakus M (2014) Simplified method for estimating the Hoek–Brown constant for intact rocks. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 140(6):04014025CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Shimada H, Chen Y, Hamanaka A, Sasaoka T, Shimada H, Matsui K (2013) Application of highwall mining system to recover residual coal in end-walls. Proc Earth Planet Sci 6:311–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. van der Merwe JN, Mathey M (2013) Probability of failure of South African coal pillars. J S Afr Inst Min Metal 113:849–857Google Scholar
  24. Vardakastanis D, Pantekis I (2014) Technical evaluation report of the 1st and 2nd phase of the Prosilio coal mine geotechnical campaign, Technical Report, October 2014, AthensGoogle Scholar
  25. Zipf RK, Bhatt S (2004) Analysis of practical ground control issues in highwall mining. In: Proceedings of 23rd conference on ground control in mining, West Virginia University, pp 210–219Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michail Tzalamarias
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ioannis Tzalamarias
    • 2
  • Andreas Benardos
    • 2
  • Vassilis Marinos
    • 3
  1. 1.METE S.A., Mining CompanyFlorinaGreece
  2. 2.School of Mining and Metallurgical EngineeringNational Technical University of AthensAthensGreece
  3. 3.School of Geology, Faculty of SciencesAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

Personalised recommendations