Four Problems with Four Solutions for Miners

In Dust Control, Environment, Mine & Quarry by Jim Silva

has listed some of the latest innovations in this industry.

The fact of the matter is that miners are often exposed to hazardous environments. It’s a natural part of the job, and everyone in this industry is well aware of the risks involved in their work.

Fortunately, recent progress in the fields of communications, illumination, and dust control are enabling new techniques to improve employee safety and make working conditions more comfortable. Here are four examples of issues that have historically plagued the mining industry and new solutions that aim to address them.

1. Problem: Mine operators don’t have a means to estimate the minute-to-minute status of mine conditions or the location of their workers.

Solution: Wireless systems (explained in detail here by the International Journal of Engineering Trends and Technology) that can track atmospheric conditions and allow for communication with employees. These technologies are becoming more affordable, and as they represent an opportunity to make operations safer, they represent a smart investment.

2. Problem: Combustible materials, a natural byproduct of mining, can damage equipment if not evacuated promptly.

Solution: Ventstop is a new product that can be used to create airtight seals in any kind of opening. While it’s often used at home to lower energy bills, Ventstop is already helping Australian coal mines to aim fresh air towards the areas where it’s most needed and then provide the sealing.

This process also helps stabilize the atmosphere in the mine in case of an emergency. Unlike magnetic vent covers, Ventstop can adhere to any surface, provides four layers of insulation, separates cool from heated air, and prevents radiant transfer of heat.

3. Problem: Even with modern headlamps, visibility is often poor inside mines.

Solution: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is currently developing an improved headlamp that will make a huge difference. Featuring a 12-volt LED beam circled by lower-power bulbs, these tools could represent a huge improvement in miners’ working conditions in the near future.

4. Problem: Exposure to road dust particles and fines stirred up by production is a proven danger to respiratory health and poses just as great of a health risk to mine personnel.

Solution: Customizable dust control programs such as the ones offered by Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. are the most effective way to deal with excess dust. As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, specific solutions can include applying surfactants or hygroscopic compounds to control road haulage dust or separate respirable dust from the belt entry.

It’s never been easier for mining companies to integrate the latest innovations in health and safety technology into their sites’ day-to-day operations. With the mining sector as strong as ever in 2015, industry leaders should remain on the lookout for products, methods, and services to make their operations cleaner, safer, and more efficient. And that starts with the innovative solutions offered by Midwest.


(Main image credit: Magnus von Koeller/flickr)

Jim is Midwest’s Business Unit Manager for Global Mining. He is experienced in operations management, asset management, and business improvement.