Breathing quality air underground

The daily contact underground workers have with harsh mining environments requires that companies consider all essential parts of mine ventilation. With 20 years’ experience, Minova provides the optimum protection mining needs.

Ventilation controls remain a core risk management area at underground mine sites, especially at a time when pneumoconiosis, or black lung, has re-emerged.

Having the appropriate ventilation controls in underground mines is considered a must, and therefore attracts the attention of statutory ventilation officers in the coal and metalliferous sectors, according to Minova NSW sales & services manager, Robert Holstein

The Mine Ventilation Conference being hosted this month by the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) in Perth will bring industry stakeholders together to celebrate the sector’s achievements. The conference challenges mining companies to reach another level of safety.

Significant research and development (R&D) in the practice over recent years has helped ensure operators maintain and improve levels of safety in underground mining.

Minova, for instance, has developed a range of cementitious and chemical-based products and systems used in the design and construction of underground mine ventilation structures and bulkheads.

“Minova offers the largest range of live tested, explosion rated ventilation control devices, which are tested at world-renowned facilities, including the Lake Lynn mine in the United States and the Londonderry explosion test chamber in Australia,” Minova senior services technical engineer Douglas Pateman says.

The company, which diversified into contract design and installation of ventilation control devices (VCDs) in 1999, has also been manufacturing products for the sector over the past 15 years.

The steel-fabricated VCDs offer many key benefits, including increased cleanliness of the air for worker protection, reduced re-entry time after a blast due to improved quality of air control and cost efficiency of the operating system.

Minova’s success is underpinned with its conformity with underground coal mine legislation, as well as site specific requirements.

In addition, Minova takes an innovative approach to design with ventilation plug and concrete seals that can be individually designed to suit the strata conditions and roadway dimensions of most underground mines.

The company couples its experience installing ventilation seals at coal mines with expertise in full underground roadway evaluation and the subsequent design and contract installation of explosion rated seals and structures.

Minova will often construct these seals using its pumpable, high-volume output grouts, including Tekseal and FB200, to ensure rapid placement and strength gain.

Users can also choose to have their VCD designed, built and delivered to site for self-installation and maintenance.

But Minova offers its service in audits management and stock control, or even full service and installation to allow mine workers get on with their normal operation.

“All product designs are assessed by Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ), ensuring the highest levels of safety are met for each design,” Minova Queensland sales and services manager David Hewitt says.

The full range of steel fabricated products can also be customised to suit any roadway dimensions and mine layout, with engineering design undertaken to Steel Structures Standard AS 4100.

Minova also puts an emphasis on the longevity of its steel structures, which are sand blasted and coated with a high-build acrylic resin applied directly to the bare steel.

The VCDs are equipped with convenient and rated lifting points, allowing easier and safe handling during installation.

Minova also includes high quality air to enhance the wellbeing of workers by designing ventilation stoppings, which are available in a range of rated and non-rated types to suit an underground mine’s ventilation requirements.

The company ensures its installed structures are fully rated and completed according to full design specifications.

Operators can also manage air overpressures from stope firings better with enhanced control over the airflow in primary ventilation circuits with Minova’s Blastflow regulator.

“Primary airflow into separate working areas or stopes is controlled by airflow regulators that have traditionally been drop board regulators. Blastflow minimises handling risks with single person adjustment of a regulator,” Pateman says.

“Blastflow louvre regulators maximises the time available to underground operators by allowing them to work in a controlled ventilation environment right up until the time of the blast.

“Once they are adjusted, airflow is regulated immediately before and after the blast.” Minova are also able to configure their Blastflow regulators to allow remote control of them from a mines Control Room, further improving the efficiency of a mining operation.

The products and services, and the meticulous attention paid to each of them, reflect Minova’s experience and capability in engineering, design, manufacture and contract installation of ventilation systems.

This article also appears in the September edition of Australian Mining.