MineARC cracks Chinese market

REFUGE chamber manufacturer MineARC has made its first sales into China’s danger-prone underground coal sector after flying through the government’s new certification process for the equipment.
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MineArc is ready to do business in China.

Blair Price

Chinese authorities have been steadily overhauling the safety regime for the country’s coal industry, which claimed around 2600 lives in 2009, a big improvement on the 2004 official death toll of 6027.

With help from its Chinese partner, SYCCRI, MineARC had its CoalSAFE refuge chamber approved by China’s Mining Products Safety Approval and Certification Center (MA Center) in late January.

This followed successful testing in September of a 10-person CoalSAFE unit, with the testing parameters modelled on those used by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Since receiving certification, MineARC has quickly become the first-ever foreign-based refuge chamber manufacturer to make sales in China, with multiple deals made to supply CoalSAFE units to mines in Liaoning and Shanxi provinces.

“MA approval represents the first clear step for any equipment manufacturer operating in China’s coal industry; we can now happily say we’re officially ready for business,” MineARC general manager Mike Lincoln said.

“It’s a significant milestone for us.”

MineARC said the current “interim” refuge chamber regulations in the country were part of a government push to fast-track their deployment, with all underground coal mines issued with strict directives to put chambers in use by the end of 2013.

“To date both the Australian and New Zealand coal industries have no regulations in place to ensure the compulsory use of refuge chambers in underground coal mines,” MineARC said.

While Australian underground coal emergency response procedures are centred on unaided self-escape to the surface, the chamber manufacturer has previously countered the possibility that miners could become blocked off or trapped.