Severe weather causes structural turmoil for coal mines

Image: Resources Safety & Health Queensland

Resources Safety & Health Queensland (RSHQ) has found that building structures at multiple Queensland coal mines have collapsed and are unable to withstand wild weather conditions.

According to RSHQ, temporary structures may not be capable of withstanding wind loads caused by severe weather.

“Given the number of failures of domed fabric structures reported to the Mines Inspectorate it is unlikely that they can be considered a place of safety during sever weather events,” RSHQ stated.

RSHQ has recommended that all structures should be audited for their structural condition, review the suitability of site facilities during sever weather, and review historical site and regional meteorological data when considering design criteria.

It has also been recommended that a review of the design and serviceability of domed fabric structures are given to validate if they can withstand certain weather conditions.

The recommendations appeared after a mine suffered a “microburst”, which is when an intense downdraft occurs within a severe thunderstorm.

“Wind loads on the structures are believed to be within the range specified by the AS/NZS 1170.2-2011, but deficiency in the design meant that the structures were just not robust enough to withstand the storm,” RSHQ stated.

RSHQ said wind loads on exposed parts of fabric structures are higher than design loads provided when fabric structure is intact.

One structure at a coal mine collapsed while personnel were located within the structure, while other dome fabric structures faced structural damage to the roof.

In 2017, Western Australia’s Department of Mines and Petroleum reported similar incidents due to the collapse of buildings and temporary structures.

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