Inspections made by Queensland’s Department of Mines and Energy (DME) has revealed that a number of underground coal mines are not implementing legislative requirements for escapeways, or maintaining escapeways as required by law.
In some cases, these legislative requirements are not effectively integrated into the early stages of mine planning as a primary consideration.
According to the DME, ventilation officers should ensure all ventilation control devices at the mine are properly constructed and maintained to ensure the integrity of segregation.
The DME also recommended the ERZ Controllers report on the adequacy of the ventilation and the condition of the ventilation control devices providing segregation.
Site senior executives and underground mine managers should ensure compliance in this area.
In 1994 at Moura No 2 Mine, 11 men lost their lives as a consequence of a catastrophic explosion.
Others survived by making their way through smoke and dust-filled roadways to the surface.
The Mining Warden made recommendations following the inquiry into the disaster, including:
“Two further specific issues proposed in submissions to the Inquiry should also be considered by the Group.
One is the introduction of a requirement for all underground mines to have one intake airway that is completely segregated from other parallel intake airways so as to provide two separate means of egress from the mine via an intake airway.’’
From that recommendation and subsequent studies, the following sections were included when the Queensland Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001 was made:
296 Escapeways (1) The site senior executive must ensure the mine has at least two trafficable entrances (escapeways) from the surface that are separated in a way that prevents any reasonably foreseeable event happening in one of the escapeways affecting the ability of persons to escape through the other escapeway. (2) The site senior executive must ensure each ERZ1 at the mine where a person works has two escapeways leading to the surface or a refuge.
(3) Subsection (2) does not apply to an ERZ1 (a) where an inspection is being carried out under the mine’s safety and health management system and no one else is working; or (b) in a single entry drive or shaft that is being sunk.
Inspector of Mines
07 4967 0868