The underground mine environment poses a number of unique challenges for our people. As we work towards our goal of ZERO harm we utilize robust systems to identify and control hazards, however, in the event that an issue arises we recognize that we must also plan for and be prepared to respond to emergency situations when they arise.
Newmont’s emergency response teams and underground mine personnel, all participate in specialised training and mock drills. In a complex underground environment, the training also includes the use of refuge chambers. A refuge chamber is a self-contained reinforced steel unit that provides a place of refuge for miners in the event of an emergency. Standard configurations are built based on occupancy, ranging from eight to 30 people. In the event of an emergency, when evacuation is no longer safe or practical, miners can seek shelter in a chamber, which comes stocked with enough water and oxygen for a minimum of 36 hours.
Toward that effort, in 2015, we partnered with MineARC Systems, the leading worldwide supplier of mine refuge chambers; bringing the best in mine rescue technology to Newmont’s underground operations. The partnership was established following the work completed by a cross-functional team of Newmont’s mine engineers, safety professionals and Mine Rescue technicians who worked together to establish a single standard for refuge chambers. This standard takes into account the environments that we operate in around the world and after careful evaluation, it was established that MineARC chambers offered the best fit for Newmont.
As Newmont’s preferred vendor for mine refuge chambers globally, MineARC’s underground refuge chambers comply with the highest international regulations and are recognized for using industry best-practice guidelines in all their designs.
The MineSAFE series of hard rock chambers are equipped with optimum safety features that go above regulation standards, including:
- Separate flushing area prior to entry to the main chamber
- Primary flushing via connection to mine air supply, regulated with simple ball valve operation
- Emergency push button flushing via breathable air cylinders
CO & CO2 scrubbing:
- Provide superior scrubbing capacity, are easy to load, safe to handle, and can store for long periods
Three forms of breathable air inside:
- Compressed Mine Air
- Breathable Oxygen Cylinders
- Oxygen Candle + Ignite
While presently the majority of Newmont’s mining operations are surface mines, we recognize that our future in many locations lies underground. We are looking to a safe future by leveraging the considerable underground expertise gained at our Tanami mine in Australia and four of Carlin’s underground mines in Nevada to build safe systems for our new Ahafo underground portal in Ghana.
To learn more about Newmont’s commitment to safety, visit our 2015 Beyond the Mine Report.
This article was originally published in Newmont ‘Our Voice’, 3rd June 2016.