May 2018
Volume 70    Issue 5

New application of directional drilling and gas-enhanced foam for suppression of abandoned underground coal mine fires

Mining Engineering , 2018, Vol. 70, No. 5, pp. 12-12
Ozment, A.; Trevits, M.A.


According to the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System, in 2013 there were 98 underground mine fires in nine states. This is considered to be an underestimate for the actual number of fires nationwide. Many mine fires are started by people burning trash where the coal seam or an abandoned coal mine is close to the surface. Other fire ignition sources include lightning and forest fires. Once ignited, a coal mine fire can easily spread into the remaining coal pillars and mine entries. Once established, the fire creates its own ventilation system supporting further combustion by drawing air down into the workings through unsealed mine shafts, fractures and surface subsidence depressions. As the coal left in the workings from the past mining operations burns, the mine void can collapse, causing subsidence and creating dangerous voids, damaging overlying surface structures and roadways. The products of combustion include smoke and noxious fumes such as carbon monoxide gas. These products are released to the atmosphere through fractures that develop within the ground surface, killing vegetation and creating serious health hazards (Richmond, 2017).  

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