All personnel must work in the mining and resource industry receive basic refuge chamber operator training as part of their emergency response training to ensure the value and importance of a refuge chamber is conveyed. In the event of an emergency, when evacuation is no longer safe or practical, a refuge chamber is designed to provide a safe and secure ‘go-to’ area for personnel to gather and await extraction.
Hochschild Mining has taken refuge chamber training to a new level, completing a 24-hour emergency simulation exercise at Inmaculada Gold-Silver Mine in Southern Peru. On October 1-2, 2016 a total of 21 participants, including a psychologist, remained in a MineARC MineSAFE Refuge Chamber for 24 hours to mentally prepare them for an emergency and help them get a better understanding of the operational procedures and necessary life-saving componentry within a safe refuge.
Emergency Response Supervisor, Walter Chilet Bazalar, managed the simulation exercise and recounted the sequence of events. Upon entry to the MineSAFE Refuge Chamber, participants learnt the purpose of a refuge chamber and how it forms an integral part of an underground mine’s broader Emergency Response Plan (ERP). The group was divided into four teams of five and told that a rescue team should come to their aid they were to remain as a team and evacuate to the mouth of the mine. The chamber’s key components were then explained, including the controller, air scrubbing and gas monitoring systems, and a demonstration of how to use the equipment was undertaken. While the psychologist conducted a series of relaxation workshops, the participants carried out all necessary refuge chamber operating procedures over the course of 24 hours.
The psychologist analysed the occupant’s behaviour and reactions throughout entrapment. Following the simulation exercise, the importance of continual emergency response training was expressed. It was also recommended that all site personnel learn stress relieving and relaxation exercises which they can then perform at any time during an emergency or refuge chamber entrapment.
MineARC encourages all clients to conduct comprehensive training, simulations and exercises such as the one in Inmaculada Mine of Hochschild Mining to prepare their workers for an emergency better.