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Project Name: Elk Creek Mine

Project Location: Somerset, CO

The Elk Creek underground coal mine in Colorado faced significant challenges with wet, muddy roadways that hindered equipment movement and overall productivity. The mine sought a way to stabilize the underground haul road, and with space restrictions in existing tunnels, needed to maintain a thin cross-section.

The remedy involved the GEOWEB® Load Support System, which brought several key benefits to the mine:

  • Load Support with Coarse Aggregate: The GEOWEB system was filled with coarse aggregate, enabling it to support repeated passes of heavy mining equipment.
  • Operational Efficiency: By eliminating downtime and interruptions, the system enhanced overall operational efficiency and saw reductions in maintenance and fuel costs, with improved cycle times.
  • Less Structure Required: The GEOWEB system stabilizes with less structure required to support the loads, with cross-section savings for most load support projects of 50-70%.
  • Durability and Material: Made from long-lasting, non-degrading high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the GEOWEB system proved to be a resilient solution for Elk Creek.
  • Cost-Effectiveness and Easy Installation: It was an inexpensive option that could be quickly installed by onsite crews, reducing the need for specialized equipment.


Muddy Roadway Problems Solved

The GEOWEB Geocell sections, which are lightweight and easy to handle, arrive in compact bundles and expand to cover a large area. They were perfectly sized to fit the roadway’s width. Underneath these sections, geotextile fabric was laid out, and limestone infill was used to complete the roadway. The GEOWEB sections were easily connected using patented ATRA® Keys, simplifying the installation process.

Prior attempts to address the muddy roadway issue involved less efficient methods, such as removing mud, filling holes with concrete blocks or old tires, or using precast concrete panels. These methods were either ineffective, expensive, or challenging to maneuver underground.

The introduction of the GEOWEB Load Support System marked a significant improvement over these previous solutions, as noted by Randy Litwiller, the Mine Manager of Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine, who had been seeking a viable solution for 20 years. The successful implementation of this system at Elk Creek Mine serves as a testament to innovative approaches in addressing longstanding operational challenges in mining environments.

“I’ve been looking for something like this for 20 years!” Randy Litwiller, Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine Manager

See how the GEOWEB System can benefit your mine site. Request a free project evaluation and/or on-site engineering support.