Flood recovery in mines

THE Queensland Mines Inspectorate has reminded mine operators to consider the hazards created by the recent rains, flooding and the resultant disruption, while attempting to restore operations.

Flood recovery in mines

THE Queensland Mines Inspectorate has reminded mine operators, site senior executives, contractors and service providers to consider the hazards created by the recent rains, flooding and the resultant disruption, while attempting to restore operations.

The Inspectorate recommended that risk management be applied to all activities with flood recovery.

In particular, the following hazards should be addressed:

• Increased likelihood of some form of pit wall instability, ingress lubrication of joint fault planes, and undercutting as surrounding areas are soaked and ground water tables are recharged, possibly at some distance from the operation.

• Ramp and road (in)stability: In rebuilding mine roads and other infrastructure, mobile equipment hazards including damaged bunds, undercutting, washouts, loss of traction and soft edges must be addressed. These issues also extend to pedestrian conditions.

• Re-establishing water management infrastructure, pumping and working near the water’s edge: Personnel and equipment hazards from working in and around water with mobile equipment must be identified and addressed. This work might include setting up pumping stations, reinstating drains, sumps, suction and discharge lines, pontoons, restoring fuel and electrical supplies etc. Hazards in handling mud must be considered.

• Recovery of equipment, towing equipment and procedures: Safe working loads of recovery equipment, including attachment points, must be reliably established prior to recovery. Only OEM approved recovery points are to be used; so called ‘vehicle tie down points’ must not be used as they can fail. Hazards due to mobile equipment water ingress, including into braking and electrical systems, and vehicle batteries, must be addressed.

• Stability of waste dumps, stockpiling areas, sedimentation ponds and dams must be established prior to reopening and use.

• Electrical work to reinstate infrastructure and systems must address hazards which include water ingress into switchgear, degradation of materials, mechanical damage due to submersion, residue on contacts, damage / destruction of drawings and plans, possible damage to fire alarms and other emergency systems, overhead powerline stability, and earth leakage and other electrical protection in switchrooms, lighting plant, portable generators, welding equipment and pumping equipment.

• Inundation of ‘sleeping shots’ and explosives magazines: Location of ‘sleeping shots’ and exclusion zones must be established prior to work commencing in the area.

Tilman Rasche

Senior Inspector of Mines

See more Safety Alerts and Safety Bulletins at http://www.dme.qld.gov.au/mines/safety_information___bulletins.cfm

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