Underground extraction of dimension stone in Europe
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Instytut Gospodarki Surowcami Mineralnymi i Energią PAN, Kraków
PIG-PIB, Oddział Dolnośląski, Wrocław
Mining Science 2014;21(Special Issue 1):49–64
Underground extraction of dimension stone is widespread in many European countries. Its popularity will undoubtedly grow, mainly due to environmental considerations and the accessibility of deposits for extraction. The most common reason for launch of underground dimension stone mining is demand for some stone materials which commonly can not be obtained from opencast mining. An important aspect of such operation is guaranteed long-term geomechanical stability of post-mining voids. This method allows to extract only selected parts of the deposit, without necessity of overburden removal, reduced impact on surface and lower costs of reclamation as compared to open pit mining. Currently, underground mining relates almost entirely of sedimentary rocks (mainly limestone) and some metamorphic rocks (e.g. marble). The best-known examples of underground exploitation of building stones are found in Italy, but also in the UK, Belgium, Portugal, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece. The room-and-pillar system is the most common operating system of extraction. It is important to have the opportunity for selective mining of parts of deposit showing the best quality parameters, which allows for higher yield of the blocks, which is rarely less than 60%. In the Central and Eastern Europe (also in Poland), undeground method of dimension stone extraction until now was not used.
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