Structural design for mines has come a long way; never before have they been more precisely constructed and safer to operate. However, even with all of the advances, it is impossible to predict every possible event or detect every hidden hazard.
In a disaster, the first thing miners are trained to do is don a rescue breathing apparatus such as the CSE Self Rescuer Long Duration (SRLD) unit and seek the nearest route to safety. If escape from the mine is not possible, retreating into an Emergency Refuge Shelter can be vital. Shelter options today are generally pre-constructed saferooms and portable refuge chambers.
Portable steel-sided chambers, such as the Strata ERCX, are complete safety systems placed in designated, marked areas of the mine and equipped to provide a clean, breathing air environment isolated from the surrounding atmosphere. The chambers can be connected to the operation’s main air compressor lines for an indefinite supply of breathable air into the chamber, and this external source passes first through a purifying filtration system.
Back-up air supply is imperative, and an onboard system must be fitted to the chamber to provide regulated oxygen supply and carbon dioxide scrubbing. Strata’s ActiveAir carbon dioxide scrubber system is designed to circulate chamber air by drawing it into the scrubber using built-in fans and forcing it to pass through soda lime chemicals packaged in spill-proof cartridges. These chemicals remove the CO2 from the exhaled air, making it safe again for human use. Oxygen cylinders are fitted with individual valve-mounted regulators with flow meters to ensure safe, regulated O2 release.
A mining safe room is very similar to a refuge chamber in function and internal equipment, but by definition are rooms or enclosed areas built into a mine. They are inexpensive to build, maintain and equip, and can accommodate large numbers of people. They are also easily expandable as needed. With the correct design implementation, the room is airtight and equipped with self-contained modular components containing life-sustaining equipment and supplies. They can be skid-mounted for flexible placement options and ease of maneuverability.
Mining safe rooms can also be connected to the mine’s compressed air system, which dispenses an indefinite supply of breathable air, and on occasion, safe rooms are constructed with borehole air for a fresh air supply from the surface.
It is also important to supply back-up air in safe rooms to safeguard against any possibility of losing external air. These back-up air systems are identical to the chamber units, and multiple systems can be used when accommodating large numbers of occupants.
Lighting and operational power connections can additionally be backed up with fully scalable auxiliary battery packs.
Meeting the Requirements.
Mine emergencies require application-specific safety equipment and fall within a wide range of global regulatory standards. Strata’s emergency refuge shelters are globally available and are easily tailored to meet the local and industry regulation requirements. Life sustaining supplies of air, food and water are provided as standard to meet the regulations of the industry and geographic location.