Mine fires' potential destructiveness examined

A SPECIAL technical session at coal 2015 dedicated to mine fires and environment control included presentations on the Hazelwood open cut mine fires in Victoria by the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre director David Cliff.
Mine fires' potential destructiveness examined Mine fires' potential destructiveness examined Mine fires' potential destructiveness examined Mine fires' potential destructiveness examined Mine fires' potential destructiveness examined

The GAG unit at Pike River.

Lou Caruana

The fire in February 2014 caused major disruption to the local community as well as major costs to the state.

The board of inquiry established to inquire into the incident found that there were major deficiencies in the way the fire was treated.

The board of inquiry did not accept the position of the mine operator that the fire was not reasonably predictable – a “perfect storm”. It found that more should have been done to prevent such an occurrence.

On the issue of mine spontaneous combustion, Basil Beamish of CB3 Mine Services delivered a paper on self-heating rate behaviour for various coals.

The self-heating performance of coals is not a simple predictable behaviour. There are many competing influences and mechanisms taking place that can moderate whether a spontaneous combustion event can take place.

The overall outcome is governed by the heat balance, which is a function of the interaction between coal intrinsic properties and site-specific extrinsic factors. Coals of quite similar rank can display contrasting self-heating behaviours due to these parameters.

This has been demonstrated from adiabatic oven testing of thermal coals from Queensland and New South Wales. Essentially, one of the key controls identified by this testing is the importance of the interaction that takes place between the moisture in the coal and intrinsic oxidation reaction rate.

The operational use of the GAG jet engine at mine sites was be presented by Martin Watkinson of Simtars, Queensland.

The ACARP funded joint project between Rio Tinto Coal Australia, Queensland Mines Rescue Service and Simtars conducted a partial inertisation of an underground coal mine using the GAG-3A engine in February 2014.

The project involved in monitoring the environmental conditions and the flow of inert GAG gases into and around the mine. Observations were made by a variety of remote sensing technologies and by direct measurements as well as observations made by mines rescue personnel in the inertised area.

This project proved that the GAG is a reliable and effective inertisation system.

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