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James’s Story

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Safety shares in underground mine refuge chambers, help know what it is like during emergencies... It was about a decade ago now, an incident occurred when several oversized rock debris from a drive extension blast
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It was about a decade ago now – I was an underground raise-bore driller at Marvel Loch when St Barbara ran the Southern Cross Operations.

An incident occurred when several oversized rock debris from a drive extension blast was due to be removed with “pops” (small controlled pop-shooting / secondary blasting).  

There was an error in notifying the drill staff as we were not on radio comms and the others in boggers, graders, and LV’s had been informed over the radio.

The “pops’ went off not far from our drive location, and we experienced the compression shock.

We immediately went to the LV to radio Shift-boss. They advised us to enter the nearest refuge chamber until told it was safe, and gasses and rock-dust dispersed.

There were several of us waiting it out in the chamber. To pass the time, we made proper use of the deck of cards. Numerous poker games helped us pass the time, although by the end I probably had a few hundred dollars in outstanding debts (And yes, I settled these over a few pool games and what have you – mine site rules)  

Fortunately, we had only just received operational training on the refuge chamber from the Safety Trainer on-site. I can’t remember if he was from St Barbara or Barminco at the time, but it was good training. At no time did we feel in danger.

From my time underground, I can remember MineARC Refuge Chambers being held in high regard, and the regular training was always comprehensive.

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