MineARC is pleased to have collaborated with Mopani Copper Mines PLC as they implement corrective action to strengthen the integrity and importance of safety on site. Recognising the value of emergency response preparedness, Mopani recently acquired 12 MineARC Refuge Chambers to ensure personnel are adequately protected when working underground.
Mopani is a Zambian registered copper mine owned by Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) (10%), Glencore PLC (73.1%) and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (16.9%). Located in the Copper belt of Zambia, in the towns of Mufulira and Nkana, Mopani is one of the world’s largest Copper mine.
Refuge Chambers for Mine Expansion
The mine is set to increase operations and production in line with an approved operational expansion plan. As part of Phase 1 of their project, Mopani has procured the following Refuge Chambers to improve mine site safety standards underground at their Nkana South operations:
- Seven 20-Person MineSAFE Permanent Refuge Chambers
- Two 50-Person MineSAFE Permanent Refuge Chambers
- Two 12-Person MineSAFE Standard Design Refuge Chambers
- One 20-Person MineSAFE Standard Design Refuge Chamber
From an emergency preparedness perspective, this significant investment will make the conditions underground for all personnel safer. Working closely with Mopani allowed MineARC engineers to tailor the refuge models to best suit their requirements.
Underground Mine Refuge Chamber Equipment
MineSAFE Refuge Chambers consists of a standard framework of recommended componentry, vital to the refuge bay’s safe operation during an emergency. These components include:
- CO / CO2 Air Scrubbing System with cartridge chemicals capable of maintaining CO2 levels to less than 1%, and CO levels below 25ppm; standard requirements for the provision of safe, breathable air.
- Cooling / Dehumidifying systems in the form of air conditioners as standard fittings.
- UPS Battery Backup to power critical life support equipment should mains power be disrupted or lost during an emergency.
- Inverter Charging System.
- Secondary Oxygen Supply – through the installation of Medical Grade Oxygen Cylinders.
- Vent Doors / Airlocks for the permanent refuge chambers.
- Compressed Air Management Systems (CAMS) for the adequate filtration of compressed air entering the refuge chamber ensures it is breathable and for continual gas toxicity monitoring.
Monitoring Refuge Chamber Remotely
Mopani’s 12 MineARC Refuge Chambers will also be equipped with MineARC’s latest refuge chamber technology, GuardIAN Refuge Chamber Monitoring (GuardIAN RCM) Aura-FX Digital Fixed Gas Monitoring System.
The integrated network mining technologies, including GuardIAN RCM, Aura-FX, Digital Controller Systems and CAMS, is collectively referred to as MineARC’s GuardIAN Intelligence Network (GuardIAN). Designed to provide real-time monitoring, communication, and system diagnostics; GuardIAN reduces costs, increases productivity through improved worker morale, and improves operational safety.
GuardIAN RCM is an independent system that continuously monitors all vital refuge operating systems, enabling real-time monitoring and providing Mopani with the confidence that their fleet of refuge chambers is emergency ready at all times.
During standby mode, GuardIAN RCM checks for component faults and monitors refuge chamber usage and entry to the chamber. It will also provide Mopani real-time internal refuge gas monitoring data and analysis delivered from Aura-FX and vital information relating to the integrity of the internal refuge chamber atmosphere communicated from CAMS.
The unique Compressed Air Management System monitors and regulates compressed air flow into the chamber. An increase in CAMS activity would indicate a breach of the refuge chamber seal, thus sending an alert via GuardIAN to designated personnel that there is a potential problem or incident.
Prioritising Emergency Safety
Safety is a priority for Mopani and MineARC alike. In emergencies such as fires, explosions, rock-falls, flooding, and the release of smoke and other forms of toxic gas, when evacuation is no longer safe or practical, an emergency refuge is designed to provide a safe and secure ‘go-to’ area for personnel to gather and await extraction. This investment is a clear demonstration of Mopani’s commitment to instilling a strong safety culture on site.