In June 2014, Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia experienced a truck fire in one of their underground maintenance bays, obstructing all exit paths for miners working on that level. With no safe refuge available on-site, the incident resulted in the hospitalisation of 80 miners due to severe smoke inhalation. Fortunately, there were no fatal injuries.
Following the incident, Konkola management and the Zambian government placed immense pressure on all underground mines across the country to ensure they have safe refuge options and procedures in place in an emergency.
MineARC Systems is a strong advocate of government lead mine safety legislative change and has been called upon several occasions to assist in the development of mine safety guidelines and minimum refuge chamber requirements for sustaining life during an emergency. Some of these guidelines include the West Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum Guideline: Refuge Chambers in Metalliferous Mines 2013, and the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) federal regulations ’30 CFR Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines’.
Since the incident in Zambia, MineARC has quoted a set of Permanent Refuge Chambers to Konkola’s Chililabombwe site, the start of what is expected to be a strong relationship between Konkola Copper and MineARC Systems African office.