Engineering & Mining Journal

JUN 2019

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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FANS AND VENTILATION 50 E&MJ • JUNE 2019 www.e-mj.com Deeper Innovation Increasing depths are one of the main challenges that miners are facing when ventilating their operations today. "At Creighton mine in Sudbury, we are currently developing 8,300 ft underground with plans to go deeper," Allen said. "As we expand deeper, we must create designs that can provide air to the new mining ar- eas. This air must provide a climate where employees can safely and comfortably work. All of this must be done using exist- ing raises and fans as much as possible, supplementing with new raises and/or fans only when necessary to minimize the large capital costs associated with new infra- structure. We must always be respectful of our surrounding communities as well to keep noise levels low and emissions clean." Allen explained that these challeng- es have also led to opportunities, and Vale is investigating applications where low-emission vehicles can replace die- sel-powered vehicles to reduce heat, gas- es and diesel particulate. These, in turn, have the potential to reduce the air vol- umes required otherwise. "Technology that can automatically support the efficient use and manage- ment of the air (i.e., VOD) is another op- portunity available to us," Allen said. "We have already installed VOD at some of our mines, with plans to expand to all of our mines in the coming years." She added that the ability to monitor contaminants such as silica and diesel particulate in real-time will also be ben- eficial, as will wireless communication technology that is cost efficient and easily brought to the workplace. Reliable communication is the back- bone of many technologies underground, including autonomous mining systems that reduce worker exposure to heat and lower ventilation requirements. Equip- ment designs that assist the worker and remove manual tasks also reduce expo- sure to heat stress. Dedusting and Coal Mining Ventilation is especially important in coal mines that generate high concentrations of dust and are susceptible to buildups of methane gas. German vendor, CFT, specializes in ventilation and dedusting solutions. Markus Thomeczek, executive vice president-sales, explained the risks: "The explosive methane gas and dangerous coal dust that are released by coal mining can be found in the whole mine area. An increased concentration of these two com- ponents can lead to an explosive mixture. "The consequences of methane fire damp in mining are dev- astating. The effect can be multiplied by the presence of coal dust, which is ignited by sparks or hot surfaces in combination with the methane gas. "The danger of coal dust explosions is that the explosion spreads throughout the whole mine until the mine is com- pletely destroyed. However, most of these mine disasters and casualties as well as production losses can be prevented suc- cessfully thanks to clean air technologies, especially dedust- ing and ventilation." Another application of CFT dedusting plants is in combatting industrial diseases such as black lung. "The incidence of black lung, which requires a legal com- pensation payment in Europe, could be reduced with mod- ern dedusting applications," Thomeczek said. "However, this industrial disease is still a key topic in underground mining worldwide. "Besides the health problems associated with black lung, this lung disease is also a high economic risk for mining nations. In 1953, after black lung was accepted as an industrial disease, coal production costs rose more than 10% due to compensative retirement payments in Germany. "In the following decades and, thanks to newly developed dedusting technologies, there was a successive reduction of ac- ceptable dust limits in order to combat black lung diseases," Thomeczek said. Dedusting equipment is just one area of CFT's portfolio, the company also offers semimobile, container-based ventilation solutions for mines, and also cooling and heating systems — both permanent and temporary. Thomeczek explained: "These solutions are used for medium- term applications and can be moved easily after finishing the project. For example, we recently delivered an integrated ventilation, heating and cooling system for the Slavkali shaft sinking project in Belarus." In 2019, CFT is also delivering four containerized ventila- tion systems, two with integrated cooling and two dust collection systems for the Woodsmith polyhalite mine in the U.K. These are for use in shaft sinking ventilation and for use with Herrenk- necht shaft-boring machines. The digitalization of mine ventilation controls means that mine employees can understand the state of their environment at all times. (Photo: Vale)

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