Underground » Roadway Development
The report details work undertaken to develop a polymer-based alternative to steel mesh for longwall coal mine roadway strata support. The objective of the research was to develop a skin confinement system that can be remotely applied thereby facilitating automation of the roadway development process and allowing operational personnel to be removed from the immediate face area. It is envisaged that the application system will be fully automated, and will enable higher rates of development to be achieved.
Researchers have been able to demonstrate that polymers can be developed with equal or better mechanical properties than steel mesh, with the polymeric skin confinement system also demonstrating the properties of a composite material when applied to a substrate as adhesion of the polymeric material to the substrate provides an additional reinforcement and confinement mechanism not present with steel mesh.
The project was undertaken on a collaborative basis with BASF, with the objective of developing a pre-commercial product and obtaining the necessary certification and approval for underground use. While preliminary regulatory testing indicates that one or more formulations may obtain the required certification, the report recommends further research be undertaken to develop a more suitable catalyst, and to finalise development of a low pressure spray application and reinforcing fibre handling system to enable large scale samples to be produced on an "as-applied" basis for regulatory testing at LOBA, and large scale geotechnical testing.