By Sir Derek Ezra (auth.)
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Extra resources for Coal: Technology for Britain’s Future
About 2 metres) of roof unsupported in front of the row, had to be approved by the Mines Inspectorate for safety reasons. It was illegal, and at first sight seemed dangerous, to allow so much unsupported roof between the coalface and the nearest row of props. But this unsupported area is occupied only by a machine, not by men. The machine travels fast, and consequently the roof is unsupported for only a short time. The powered supports are moved in quickly by hydraulic power without men having to pass under unsupported roof.
4 metres in thickness and occurring at depths of less than 450 metres, first consisted of splitting the seam into small rectangular pillars by driving two series of parallel roadways at regular intervals apart, and usually at right angles to each other, to form the pillars of the required size. Unless necessary for underground roadway protection or for the prevention of surface damage the pillars were later extracted (usually retreating from the boundary towards the pit bottom in a predetermined sequence) in a second operation in which successive lifts or slices were taken systematically from each pillar, the roof in the working place being timbered in accordance with established practice.
Years of use of these props since 1958 have demonstrated that safety at the face has enormously improved. Cutter-loaders The chief machine in the coalface is the cutter-loader. ) wide all along the face and pushing the broken coal on to the conveyor. The machine is hauled by one of many methodsoriginally a steel rope, superseded by a chain, running the full length of the face and anchored at each end. The chain in 1976 began in turn to be superseded by chainless haulage methods that avoid the danger of injury from chains breaking or whipping under tension.