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COAL

number and nature of the coal seams in new ground, or the position of the particular seam or seams which it is proposed to work in extensions of known coalfields.

EB1911 - Coal Fig. 1.—Proving by Boreholes.jpg
Fig. 1.—Proving by Boreholes.

The principle of proving a mineral field by boring is illustrated by fig. 1, which represents a line direct from the dip to the rise of the field, the inclination of the strata being one in eight. No. 1 bore is commenced at the dip, and reaches a seam of coal A, at 40 fathoms; at this depth it is considered proper to remove nearer to the outcrop so that lower strata may be bored into at a less depth, and a second bore is commenced. To find the position of No. 2, so as to form a continuous section, it is necessary to reckon the inclination of the strata, which is 1 in 8; and as bore No. 1 was 40 fathoms in depth, we multiply the depth by the rate of inclination, 40 × 8 = 320 fathoms, which gives the point at which the coal seam A should reach the surface. But there is generally a certain depth of alluvial cover which requires to be deducted, and which we call 3 fathoms, then (40 − 3 = 37) × 8 = 296 fathoms; or say 286 fathoms is the distance that the second bore should be placed to the rise of the first, so as to have, for certain, the seam of coal A in clear connexion with the seam of coal B. In bore No. 3, where the seam B, according to the same system of arrangement, should have been found at or near the surface, another seam C is proved at a considerable depth, differing in character and thickness from either of the preceding. This derangement being carefully noted, another bore to the outcrop on the same principle is put down for the purpose of proving the seam C; the nature of the strata at first is found to agree with the latter part of that bored through in No. 3, but immediately on crossing the dislocation seen in the figure it is changed and the deeper seam D is found.

The evidence therefore of these bores (3 and 4) indicates some material derangement, which is then proved by other bores, either towards the dip or the outcrop, according to the judgment of the borer, so as to ascertain the best position for sinking pits. (For the methods of boring see Boring.)

The working of coal may be conducted either by means of levels or galleries driven from the outcrop in a valley, or by shafts or pits sunk from the surface. In the early days of coal-mining, open working, or quarrying from Methods of working. the outcrop of the seams, was practised to a considerable extent; but there are now few if any places in England where this can be done. In 1873 there could be seen, in the thick coal seams of Bengal, near Raniganj, a seam about 50 ft. thick laid bare, over an area of several acres, by stripping off a superficial covering varying from 10 to 30 ft., in order to remove the whole of the coal without loss by pillars. Such a case, however, is quite exceptional. The operations by which the coal is reached and laid out for removal are known as “winning,” the actual working or extraction of the coal being termed “getting.” In fig. 2 A B is a cross cut level, by which the seams of coal 1 and 2 are won, and C D a vertical shaft by which the seams 1, 2 and 3 are won. When the field is won by the former method, the coal lying above the level is said to be “level-free.” The mode of winning by level is of less general application than that by shafts, as the capacity for production is less, owing to the smaller size of roadways by which the coal must be brought to the surface, levels of large section being expensive and difficult to keep open when the mine has been for some time at work. Shafts, on the other hand, may be made of almost any capacity, owing to the high speed in drawing which is attainable with proper mechanism, and allow of the use of more perfect arrangements at the surface than can usually be adopted at the mouth of a level on a hill-side. A more cogent reason, however, is to be found in the fact that the principal coalfields are in flat countries, where the coal can only be reached by vertical sinking.

The methods adopted in driving levels for collieries are generally similar to those adopted in other mines. The ground is secured by timbering, or more usually by arching in masonry or brick-work. Levels like that in fig. 2, which are driven across the stratification, or generally anywhere not in coal, are known as “stone drifts.” The sinking of colliery shafts, however, Sinking of shafts. differs considerably from that of other mines, owing to their generally large size, and the difficulties that are often encountered from water during the sinking. The actual coal measure strata, consisting mainly of shales and clays, are generally impervious to water, but when strata of a permeable character are sunk through, such as the magnesian limestone of the north of England, the Permian sandstones of the central counties, or the chalk and greensand in the north of France and Westphalia, special methods are required in order to pass the water-bearing beds, and to protect the shaft and workings from the influx of water subsequently. Of these methods one of the chief is the plan of tubbing, or lining the excavation with an impermeable casing of wood or iron, generally the latter, built up in segments forming rings, which are piled upon each other throughout the whole depth of Tubbing. the water-bearing strata. This method necessitates the use of very considerable pumping power during the sinking, as the water has to be kept down in order to allow the sinkers to reach a water-tight stratum upon which the foundation of the tubbing can be placed. This consists of a heavy cast iron ring, known as a wedging crib, or curb, also fitted together in segments, which is lodged in a square-edged groove cut for its reception, tightly caulked with moss, and wedged into position. Upon this the tubbing is built up in segments, of which usually from 10 to 12 are required for the entire circumference, the edges being made perfectly true. The thickness varies according to the pressure expected, but may be taken at from ¾ to 1½ in. The inner face is smooth, but the back is strengthened with angle brackets at the corners. A small hole is left in the centre of each segment, which is kept open during the fitting to prevent undue pressure upon any one, but is stopped as soon as the circle is completed. In the north of France and Belgium wooden tubbings, built of polygonal rings, were at one time in general use. The polygons adopted were of 20 or more sides approximating to a circular form.

EB1911 - Coal Fig. 2.—Shaft and Level.jpg
Fig. 2.—Shaft and Level.

The second principal method of sinking through water-bearing ground is by compressed air. The shaft is lined with a cylinder of wrought iron, within which a tubular chamber, provided with doors above and below, known as an Pneumatic sinking.air-lock, is fitted by a telescopic joint, which is tightly packed so as to close the top of the shaft air-tight. Air is then forced into the inclosed space by means of a compressing engine, until the pressure is sufficient to oppose the flow of water into the excavation, and to drive out any that may collect in the bottom of the shaft through a pipe which is carried through the air-sluice to the surface. The miners work in the bottom in the same manner as divers in an ordinary diving-bell. Access to the surface is obtained through the double doors of the air-sluice,