Over 3.25 million tons of soda ash is extracted and transported by Ciner Resources from the Green River Basin every year. How we extract this soda ash is not only important to us, but our surrounding environment. As a global leader of the soda ash industry, we feel it is our corporate responsibility to set an environment-friendly precedent when it comes to mining trona. We understand how important the Green River Basin is to the future of our industry. As a result, we naturally mine trona from the ground using the Room and Pillar Method.
The Room and Pillar Method, also referred to as the Pillar and Stall Method, is one of the world’s oldest mining systems. Dating beyond the 1840s, this method has been commonly used in mining coal, iron, and other base metals. In the 1970s, over 50% of coal mining in the United States used this method. Today, it remains the most popular coal mining method.
Ciner uses the Room and Pillar Method not just because it is safe and efficient—We use it because it is one of the most ecologically-friendly approaches to mining today and it helps ensure the preservation of the Green River Basin. Using this method, we essentially create a series of rooms 850 feet below the ground. As our continuous miners carve out trona, large pillars are strategically left behind to support the roof. The size and placement of these pillars are carefully calculated based on the rate and quantity of extraction combined with the load-bearing capacity of the land above and the rock below. In addition to the natural pillars and to further enhance roof support, every four feet we insert six-foot metal rods into the roof. Connections are made between the roof bolts at regular intervals and the end result is a checkerboard pattern of rooms and pillars.
Today, Ciner’s mine operates like an underground city 850 feet below the surface. The rooms span over 1,300 square miles and contain maintenance shops, bathrooms, electricity lines, and safe rooms. At Ciner, we take great pride in the fact that our mine is considered the country’s safest underground mine and is a four-time winner of the US Department of Labor Sentinels of Safety Award. We truly believe the most important thing to come out of the mine are the miners.