As described earlier, the intermediate goals of ground failure prevention research address issues identified in the earlier NRC (1995) review of the USBM and deal specifically with critical areas identified by this committee in establishing a comprehensive ground failure prevention program. Research is in high-priority areas and is connected to improvement in workplace protection. Consequently, the Mining Program ground failure prevention program deserves a high rating for relevance.
Ground failure prevention research is a heritage program, with future research needs identified primarily through concerns expressed by stakeholders and the prevalence of injuries caused by changing mining methods and geologic conditions. The Mining Program has identified several research areas it is pursuing. Examples of appropriately targeted new research include renewed work on highwall safety, improved strategies for multiple-seam mining, and blast damage control and surface treatment to minimize loose rock hazards. The Mining Program is also focusing on future research to reduce pillar and roof hazards in underground stone and industrial mineral operations in response to the projected demand for these commodities.
Because of challenges posed by mining in increasingly severe geologic environments and in closer proximity to existing and abandoned mines, the Mining Program needs to expand its new research to include developing more robust numerical techniques for modeling mine openings in complex geologic materials; better void detection technologies; and strategies to improve design and safety in deep (>600 m) coal deposits.