Coal Mine of the Year Finalist: Mt Thorley Warkworth Mine

Rio Tinto Coal Australia's Mt Thorley Warkworth Coal Mine is a finalist in the 5th Annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards for its innovative approach to mine safety.

Rio Tinto Coal Australia’s Mt Thorley Warkworth Coal Mine is a finalist in the 5th Annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards for its innovative approach to mine safety.

The mine developed a self-locking jack that reduces the risks from moving supports under suspended heavy loads.

The device, which won this year’s NSW Minerals Council Safety Innovation Award, enables machines to be lifted, supported and lowered without the need for personnel to be under a suspended load to operate the jack or place stands.

Because the jack both lifts and supports, only one piece of equipment needs to be positioned prior to raising the equipment. This significantly lowers the manual handling risks along with maintaining a clear workspace.

Only one person is needed to complete the task; in the past a single person was needed to operate the machine and one or two was needed to place the stands.

A risk assessment completed during the design of the jack identified the weight of the stand and the use of hydraulic pressure as potential risks. To alleviate these risks, a lifting attachment was added to the new jack. Similarly, to reduce the inherent risks involved in using high pressure hydraulic fluids, the designers created the jack to operate at only half the rated pressure. The design was produced from a wealth of internal experience, mixed with mine workers, innovation and strategic thinking.

Mt Thorley Warkworth is an open-cut, multi-seam operation that employs 650 full time workers and up to 350 contractors depending on major projects and maintenance programs.

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