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Repurposing a Refuge Chamber for Staff Training

Lundin Mining improved their safety education program by repurposing an out-of-operation safe refuge to provide on-site training.

Understanding how to operate a chamber is essential. Training lays the foundation for personnel to develop their skills and knowledge of safety and emergency procedures.

Lundin Mining was looking to redesign their emergency response training, without impacting costs and operations on site. Coincidently, a decommissioned refuge chamber was lying in wait.

Repurposing a Refuge Chamber  - Final Lundin Mine

On-Site Challenges

  • Ensure personnel were adequately trained in emergency response procedures including the operation of a refuge chamber.
  • Control the costs of supplies and resources.
  • Restore a disused refuge chamber.

Lundin Mining is a diversified Canadian base metals mining company with operations in Chile, the United States of America, Portugal and Sweden, primarily producing copper, nickel and zinc. Alcaparrosa is one of Lundin Mining’s three mines located in Tierra Amarilla in northern Chile.

“Ensuring the safety of all personnel through operational training and refuge chamber management is essential.”

Refuge chamber MAA-045 was not operational for several years before it was refurbished into a dedicated training chamber. Under the direction of Mr Nelson Navarro Chief of Management and Control of Mining Costs, MineARC Systems and Lundin Mining worked closely to give the chamber a new life and improve safety training across the mine site.  After three months, the newly restored chamber was suitable to conduct on-going operational training to all mine personnel.

Refuge Chamber Training Solutions

  • Repurpose the older model refuge chamber through refurbishment.
  • Reduce waste and ongoing supply costs by refurbishing a refuge chamber.
  • Utilise the restored refuge chamber for on-site training.

Refuge Chamber Refurbishment

Lundin Mining was able to tailor the rebuild to conform to their current fleet. The refurbishment of MAA-045 brought the equipment in-line with technology incorporated into active chambers underground, including a new scrubbing system, power supply and operational guidelines.

The original free pour chemical scrubbing systems within the MineSAFE Refuge Chamber was replaced with the latest scrubbing technology, MineARC’s MARCISORB chemical cartridges. A chemical cartridge scrubber reduces manual handling of chemicals and improves accurate chemical distribution and storage space within the chamber.

Spare parts and new devices were installed and fresh supplies provided. A complete overhaul of the wiring was required to support the new components and upgraded systems. Importantly, all batteries were replaced to ensure adequate power to the refuge chamber’s life support systems (including scrubbing units, air conditioning and lighting), in the event of a loss of mains power.

On-site Refuge Chamber Training

A hands-on approach allows participants the chance to experience operating their refuge chambers, demonstrated within the context of the underground environment. Understanding how to run a refuge chamber can make a significant difference to how an individual reacts in an emergency.

By refurbishing an older model refuge chamber, Lundin can schedule training during mine maintenance utilising the more accessible training chamber. An above ground training chamber permitted the mine to conduct on-site training for personnel to operate and service refuge chambers and removed the need to transport trainees underground. Contractors and employees are provided with hands-on experience to develop the correct skills and know-how to operate all underground refuge chambers confidently.

Accessible Purpose Built Facility

Working alongside Lundin Mining, MineARC’s Service Team was able to provide a new purpose-built training chamber. Previously, Lundin Mining conducted training using refuge chambers underground.  While there are many benefits to holding training in a real-life scenario, Lundin Mining was provided with an opportunity to develop their dedicated training chamber.

Refuge chambers play an integral role in an organisation overall safety plan; the purpose-built training chamber provides personnel with the skills and knowledge to operate the chamber during an emergency. Employees and contractors learn how to install chemical cartridges, manage each device, maintain breathable air and monitor food and water supply without exhausting and replacing the supplies needed in the emergency chambers underground. 

By taking advantage of a MineARC’s Refurbishment Program, Lundin Mining transformed an out-of-operation refuge chamber into a dedicated training chamber, improving safety and reducing the impact on operations. 


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