The Queensland mines inspectorate has put a hold on blasting at BMA’s Saraji and Peak Downs coal mines.
This suspension of blasting follows two incidents at the mines on 6 March where miners were exposed to harmful gases resulting from a blast, the Daily Mercury reported.
The miners were allegedly exposed to nitrogen oxide clouds as a result of blasting at the two coal mines.
Inspectors are investigating how the workers came to be exposed
“The exact causes of these events are yet to be established,” a Mines spokesman for the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) told the Daily Mercury.
“Normally a 1km exclusion zone is more than adequate to protect personnel from fume events during blasting operations; for example, in the Saraji incident personnel were 4.2km from the blast zone,” he said.
According to a commenter on Australian Mining who is familiar with blasting, the fumes could have been caused by using an Anfo mixture in wet holes, which may have caused nitrogen oxide fumes by desensitising the product after it was exposed to water.
Coal industry representatives, unions and explosive suppliers will come together later in the week to discuss the issue of fume emissions in coal mining.
“One of the aims of this meeting is to form a steering group to formulate new shot firing guidelines to be utilised by the whole industry,” the spokesman said.
Xstrata’s Bulga coal mine also recently came under fire for dust plumes that arose while carrying out blasting, moving it to investigate new blasting products.
According to the mines inspectorate, during a typical week there are between 120 and 150 blasts occurring at Queensland mines, and less than 2% have resulted in a fume event.
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