Distinct Element Analysis For The Effectiveness Of Preliminary Coal Pillar Rib Support Systems Based On The Strength Reduction Method Using Coal Mass Constitutive Model


Despite numerous empirical, numerical, and hybrid studies conducted on the subject of coal rib failure, mine fatalities related to rib failures continue to occur at around 1.5 per year between 2009 and 2021. To date, a standard methodology for the design of coal rib supports that can accommodate the wide range of unique conditions found in coal mines in the USA has not been developed, forcing mine operators to rely on the trial-and-error process or industrial legacy practices for the design of coal rib support patterns. In this study, to better understand the support systems' effectiveness, various rib bolting scenarios were investigated. A coal mass constitutive model is implemented to a distinct element method (DEM) code, and rib factor-of-safety (RibFOS) analyses were performed by applying strength-reduction for the coal matrix and explicitly modeled face cleats. Ribs with various overburden depths and mining heights composed of solid Banded-Bright coal (BBC) were considered in this study. Different scenarios such as rib bolt length and the number of bolts were studied to quantify the effect of primary rib support density on rib stability. As a result of the unsupported coal rib analyses, a decaying exponential relationship is proposed between the mining height-overburden depth and the RibFOS. The developed coal rib models clearly show the coal-rib bolt interaction and illustrate how the addition of rib bolts restricts the movement of the coal rib. The results reveal that the strength reduction method in DEM code with the coal-mass model can aid in the development of practical primary support charts, which can help in the rib support design process. In addition, an unsupported RibFOS cutoff is proposed, beyond which the addition of primary support cannot stabilize the failed rib structure.


Mining Engineering


Alpha Foundation for the Improvement of Mine Safety and Health, Grant None

Keywords and Phrases

Coal pillar; DEM; Numerical modeling; RDR; Rib support; RibFOS

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

2524-3470; 2524-3462

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





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Publication Date

01 Jan 2023