Underground » Health and Safety
The importance of safety in the underground coal mining industry is paramount to the increases in productivity the industry must achieve in order to realise adequate returns on funds invested. These efforts to improve safety have intensified following the Moura Inquiry findings.
A new initiative arose from Australia's participation in the International Committee on Coal Research (ICCR) and the desire of the South African delegates to cooperate more closely with Australian researchers particularly in the field of safety research and demonstration..
Agreement has been reached to actively exchange information and experience in the areas of Coal Pillar Design, Fires and Explosions and Mines Rescue and Escape.
This cooperation has taken the form of nominated experts in each area collating relevant work done in their country. The Australian delegation visited South Africa from 14 to 23 April 1997 to both describe our work and to see at first hand what the South Africans are doing. The visit to South Africa was funded by the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP). The South Africans reciprocated in kind from 16 to 25 June 1997. The visit in South Africa was organised by the Mining Technology division for the Council for Scientific and Industry Research (CSIR).
The major highlights of the visit were as follows:
- A new technique of suspending stone dust barriers, which is simpler and reduces manual handling considerably, has been developed.
- The South Africans have experience in actual emergency conditions with many of the escape techniques which have been proposed post Moura with hard evidence on what works and what does not.
- Light and sound guided escape systems in low visibility have been found wanting but cable guides have been found to be effective.
- The South Africans have considerable experience with oxygen based self rescuers.
- Some brands of SCOSRs which are banned in South Africa because of poor performance are being sold in Australia.
- A matrix of coal pillar types versus common research needs has been developed.
Lessons learned in yield pillars in platinum and deep gold mines, plus crush pillars in longwall mining will find application in Australia.
- A large field experience base relating to pillars exists in South Africa across both its coal and its metalliferous mining industry.
- A large data base contained in research and technical reports resides in the Chamber of Mines, CSIR and mining houses (groups) in South Africa.
The Australian Team was as follows:
Mr Ray Parkin, Manager Health and Safety and Environment, Shell Coal Australia - Team Leader
Professor Jim Galvin, Head of the School of Mining Engineering, University of New South Wales - Coal Pillar Design: Mr Paul Mackenzie-Wood, Manager, Technology and Technical Services NSW Mines Rescue - Escape and Rescue: Dr David Cliff, Manager Mining Research, SIMTARS - Fire and Explosions
The South African Team was as follows:
Mr Harry Rose, Manager Health and Safety Ingwe Coal - Team Leader: Dr Bernard Madden, Miningtek - Rock Mechanics - Coal Pillar Design: Mr Jan du Plessis, Miningtek - Fires and Explosions: Dr John Kielblock, Miningtek - Escape and Rescue