One of the most extensive safety measures PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) has implemented refuge chambers and refuge chamber upgrades for safety, located in many different locations in the underground mines.
Working conditions in an underground mine can be hazardous. Numerous safety risks can arise, including rockfall, wet muck, fires, cave structure support collapse, exposure to the explosive material, and exposure to poisonous gases.
PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) continues to maintain the motto “Safety First; Production will Follow” in its underground mine operation as the biggest and longest underground mine in Indonesia. For this reason, extra safety measures have been identified and implemented.
Upgrading Older Refuge Chambers to Meet New Safety Targets
In January 2016, two MineARC technical experts started upgrading the 17 existing Series I and II Refuge Chambers to the most recent Series IV.
“The previous series does not have voice prompt technology. The latest series is more user-friendly – there is a bilingual voice prompt. This voice prompt goes through every procedural step to activate the refuge chamber,” explained Oo Ye Htut Thant Zin, MineARC Technical Expert familiarly known as Ye.
Ye continues to explain that additional changes to the scrubber besides the user-friendly instructional voice prompts include more compact chemical packaging and a digital display for temperature, oxygen, and gas levels. Overall, the latest series provides a more straightforward activation system for its occupants.
During a meeting with Mulyadi, General Superintendent UG Mine Safety, he explained that before the multiple upgrades on the existing fleet, in the last quarter of 2015, several Series IV Refuge Chambers were installed. “These new refuge chambers highlighted the necessity of upgrading the already existing refuge chambers”, Mulyadi further explained.
“These refuge chambers are installed not because we’re anticipating a major accident, it’s here as an extra precaution – this is how far Freeport will go to ensure that its employees receive the best quality assurance of safety,” said Mulyadi. He also hopes that these refuge chambers are just provided and never needed to be used.
Implementing Refuge Chambers Underground
At PTFI, there are currently 49 refuge stations; 48 are portable refuge chambers that can accommodate a range of between 18 and 30 people, and one fixed refuge bay accommodating 300 people.
A refuge chamber is an emergency shelter installed in an underground environment. MineARC has developed a standard range of portable refuge chambers that can be positioned and repositioned with ease. It provides an ongoing safety solution for dangerous work areas such as our underground mines in complex tunnel networks.
Refuge chambers contain several vital life support systems that provide a safe, breathable atmosphere for occupants for a minimum of 36 hours. These systems include primary and secondary oxygen supplies, air conditioning systems, positive pressure systems, electrical systems, gas detection and CO/CO2 absorption systems (referred to as ‘scrubbing’ systems).