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Investigation of the Potential Lightning Impacts on Underground Coal Mines

Underground » Detection and Prevention of Fires and Explosions

Published: March 17Project Number: C22003

Get ReportAuthor: David Cliff | The University of Queensland

The objective of this research was to develop and apply computer models to evaluate the potential lightning impacts on underground coal-mining.  These models can be utilised to assist in the design of effective controls.  This project will provide a significantly improved level of knowledge and control over current lightning abatement techniques.

The direct potential for harm from lightning has long been recognised for the surface facilities of coal mines.  However recent events at Blakefield South in NSW on January 5 2011 and more definitively at Sago mine in the USA in 2006 have suggested that there is potential for lightning to cause ignition of methane-air atmospheres, resulting in significant damage to the underground workings of a coal mine.  A very detailed analysis carried out by as part of the MSHA investigation into the SAGO disaster by Sandia Laboratories identified at least ten other incidents over the past thirteen years where lightning had probably caused the ignition of a sealed goaf area of a mine. Fortunately in those cases no lives were lost. The recent event at Blakefield South has suggested that there may be the potential for ignition to occur in an active longwall goaf.

An e-newsletter has also been published for this project, highlighting its significance for the industry.

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