MineSAFE Permanent Refuge Shelter

A MineSAFE Permanent Refuge Shelter (as opposed to a Portable Refuge Chamber) can often prove to be a more efficient and cost effective solution for an underground mine. In particular a permanent shelter can work well as an emergency refuge facility for mine sites that have a large number of personnel underground at any one time; particularly if they are remaining within certain areas of the mine.

Permanent refuge chambers are capable of sheltering upwards of hundreds of personnel in an underground emergency, and can also double as break, rest and lunch areas during normal operation.

MineSAFE Permanent Refuge Shelters consist of a standard framework of recommended equipment, vital to safe operation of the shelter in an underground mining emergency. MineARC engineers work closely with each site to tailor a refuge model to best suit their requirements.

MineSAFE Permanent Refuge Shelter

Scrubbing Systems

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) are expired by refuge shelter occupants as part of their normal breathing activity. Carbon monoxide can also enter the shelter via the compressed air intake if it becomes compromised, and as occupants enter and exit the refuge chamber. In high enough concentrations, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to a loss of consciousness and eventually, death. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide removal is therefore a vital necessity for any refuge shelter.

MineARC’s patented Series IV electrical scrubbing system is designed to ‘scrub’ the build up of harmful CO2 and CO from the air inside the permanent refuge shelter.


The MineARC Series IV Scrubber is the “Control Unit” of an expandable refuge shelter scrubbing system, that is capable of providing CO and CO2 removal while also providing cooling and heating to large-scale sealed environments.

The Series IV scrubber utilises the same technology found in MineARC’s MineSAFE Standard Design Refuge Chamber and is capable of providing remote monitoring via GuardIAN (optional), self-diagnostics, 4-20mA monitoring, and voice prompt operating instructions with i.V.A.N.

  • Advanced Digital Control System
  • i.V.A.N (Intelligent Voice Audio Navigation)
  • Aura-FX Digital Gas Monitoring
  • Pre-packaged MARCISORB Chemical Cartridges
  • Intuitive Operation
  • Modular Controller Design
  • Battery Monitoring and Diagnostics
  • 150 cfm Drone Scrubbing Unit (capacity to link four (4) Drones to a single Series IV Control Unit)
  • 300 cfm Drone Scrubbing Unit (capacity to link two (2) Drones to a single Series IV Control Unit)

UPS Battery Backup

A secure steel cabinet outside the MineSAFE Permanent Refuge Shelter houses the refuge system's battery backup UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). The UPS is a fail safe system that can power the emergency refuge shelter's internal life support systems for a minimum of 36 hours should mains (‘mine’) power become cut-off.


Cooling capacity is one of the major determining factors behind the size of the UPS required for a specific permanent refuge shelter. Refuge volume, ambient mine temperature and intended occupancy in a mine emergency will all contribute towards the size of the air conditioner, and subsequently the battery backup system necessary.

MineARC has a standard range of battery boxes to suit all permanent refuge shelter occupancies and entrapment durations. Battery boxes can also be remotely located up to 100m (300ft) from the actual refuge shelter. Custom dimensions units are also available.

Flushing Airlocks

An airlock is designed to act as a secure staging area between the safety of the permanent refuge shelter and the outside environment; significantly reducing the threat of contaminants being brought into the refuge chamber on entry during an underground mine emergency.

MineARC offers a choice of a normal entry or high flow entry airlock, with a number of optional add-ons to further improve the flushing efficiency during personnel entry.


The front of the airlock is designed for easy identification, and quick access during an emergency. The strobe lighting, warning siren and reflective signage alert passers-by to the permanent refuge shelter location, whilst the interlocking rotating door handles provide simple, straight forward access to the safety of the interior.

Two doors, six person, no flushing.

MineARC's Passive Airlock for permanent refuge shelters provides protected passage into the refuge bay for up to six people at a time. To avoid the ingress of contamination, only one door can be opened at a time.

Optional add-ons will further minimise the possibility of contaminants entering the refuge shelter.

Two doors, six person, Positive Pressure Flushing System.

MineARC's Positive Pressure Flushing System (PPFS) ensures the out-flow of air; preventing the ingress of contaminants while the airlock doors are open for entry.

The PPFS provides high speed pressurisation and is activated prior to entry via a simple electric push-button system, during which, controlled quantities of air are released from cylinders located within the airlock.

Two doors, six person, Backup Flushing System.

MineARC's Backup Flushing System (BFS) works in a similar way to the PPFS; preventing the ingress of contaminants while the airlock doors are open for entry.

The BFS is activated once inside the airlock via a simple electric push-button system, during which, controlled quantities of air are released from cylinders located within the airlock.

Two doors, six person, two automatic flushing curtains for fast entry.

MineARC's High Flow Airlock allows for rapid entry into the permanent refuge shelter by multiple personnel at one time. Flushing curtains are located at both the entry and exit of the airlock and are activated by sudden internal pressure changes when the airlock doors are opened.

As shown in the diagram below, the continual stream of air in a downwards direction forces any toxins and contaminants out of the airlock as personnel pass through. The air curtains remain active until the doors have been closed, allowing for high-flow entry by multiple personnel at one time.

Bulkhead Doors

MineARC manufactures a range of bulkhead doors to suit permanent refuge shelter specifications. All doors are constructed from solid steel plate, with doublelocking rotating handles, rubber seals, porthole windows, and check valves to ensure a fully sealed emergency shelter. Doors can be configured either with a bulkhead mounting frame (allowing walls to be built around the door), or without a mounting frame, should a door cavity already exist.


The bulkhead door of the permanent shelter is designed primarily for easy identification, and quick access during an emergency. The strobe lighting, warning siren and reflective signage alert passers-by to the chamber’s location, whilst the interlocking rotating door handles provide simple, straight forward access to the safety of the interior.

Compressed Air Management System (CAMS)

In the event of an emergency, during entry into the refuge shelter, the positive pressure created by CAMS ensures contaminants do not pass into the refuge bay. Once all personnel have safely entered the refuge shelter, the compressed air management system manually diverts to allow safely filtered mine air into the main refuge bay; providing continual, breathable compressed air flow for occupants for the duration of entrapment.


In addition to protecting the refuge shelter from the ingress of harmful contaminants and toxins, CAMS provides three major benefits:

  • Regulated compressed air usage, resulting in significant energy cost savings of up to 90%
  • 4-stage filtration, including water separation, pre-filter, coalescing filter and abroption filter
  • Gas toxicity monitoring to prevent carbon monoxide from entering the airlock

Due to the fact that refuge bays require positive pressure at all times to restrict the ingress of toxins, the cost of supplying a continual flow of compressed air to refuge bays can be considerable.

Optimising compressed air on a mine site is an important and effective way to dramatically reduce a company’s operating costs. During stand-by mode, the compressed air management system of the CAMS Flushing Airlock regulates airflow into the airlock so it remains in a constant state of positive pressure. Sensors within the airlock switch the air intake on and off, emitting periodic bursts of compressed air to maintain an internal pressure of 200Pa. When measured over a year, CAMS has been shown to save up to 90% of air costs per refuge as shown on the indicative chart below.

Unfiltered compressed air can be extremely hazardous to occupants’ health during an emergency. Even if the airline is not compromised, hydrocarbons, oil vapor and other hazardous particles from diesel fumes and other sources common on mine sites can be drawn in through the compressed air intake and condensed to dangerous levels within the refuge. This can lead to poisoning of occupants and long-term health complications. CAMS provides a four stage filtration process, including water separation, pre-filter, coalescing and absorption.

In the case of a mine fire, there is a risk that Carbon Monoxide can be drawn through the mine airline. CAMS is equipped with an air toxicity monitor and safety shut off valve, designed to monitor oxygen levels in the compressed air and measure displacement of oxygen by other gasses.

If O2 falls below standard levels, the safety shut off system automatically activates, ensuring the safety of occupants from toxic gas ingress through the airline.

Compressed Oxygen Cylinder Racks

If mine air supply fails, permanent refuge shelters should be fitted with a reliable secondary source of oxygen supply (O2). MineARC Scrubbers operate in conjunction with breathing grade O2 cylinders.

All scrubbers are supplied with a primary and backup oxygen regulator as well as Latex Gloves for handling.


To safely and securely house the O2 cylinders, MineARC manufactures two standard configuration cylinder racks.

Comparison Table

Aura-FX Gas monitoring Modular construction Air-conditioning 36hrs Battery Backup
8-30
4-8
8-30
8-26
12-32
30-500

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