Australian soldiers used a similar method to the one Mills introduced to Southern to continue firing multiple shots while they evacuated the Gallipoli area.
The innovation was based around a bucket connected to water valves that spray the roadways for dust suppression. The aim of the concept was to allow workers to leave the sprinklers running and they would turn off automatically, ensuring the roadway was not flooded and the miner was free to do other work.
“I set the original device up so when you turn a valve on to supply water to the sprinklers, it also supplied a metered flow into a bucket and you can set that for any time you want just by turning a small valve. Whatever time you wanted the water to turn off, the bucket would fill and the weight of the water would manually shut the valve off,” Mills said.
“Originally when you turned the water on, someone would have to stand there for 10 minutes and wait to turn it off. This way it empowers people, as they are driving out, to turn them on and know that they will shut off automatically and not turn the roadway into a swamp,” he said.
Currently, German Creek Southern have installed one device underground and are looking to set up many more, once improvements have been made.
“Unfortunately the concept was fairly simple but the building of them takes a bit of time, so we are waiting until we improve them and then we will get someone to build them for us,” Mills said.
The largest problem the mine has with the design so far, was once it was shut off, water continued to trickle out, hitting one point on the roadway and creating swampy areas.
“Improvements to make are to go from a one way shut off valve to a valve that moves between allowing a flow through and then shutting up at the same time as dumping the residual water in the line, so we don’t get leakage after it is closed.”