Working underground in Mining or Tunneling is hard work and when you purchase or hire Mining equipment for underground you want to be sure it has the ability to stand up to the rigors of a working life in this tough environment, Underground Refuge chambers should be built to last, Simple to use, Maintain and Service because simplicity is what will help save lives should you need to use it.
Sustaining life during emergencies
A Refuge Chamber is a sealed environment which is used to sustain life during a hazardous atmospheric situation or emergency in a mine. Mines can have varying degrees of risk, with breathable air being a priority. Some of the essential items a refuge chamber needs to contain in order to sustain life are;
- Protection from an irrespirable atmosphere
- Be easily identifiable
- Able to stand alone
- Contain a sealed respirable atmosphere
- Air and Water Supply
- Thermal Management – cooling and humidity control
- Pressure equalisation
- Sturdy and robust design
- Gas monitoring equipment
- First aid & toilet
- Painted surfaces
- Capacity for workers in immediate area
- Second means of egress
While the above lists the key functions of a refuge chambers requirements, and all are of significant important, Bost Group have expanded on some of these key items below to point out some of the critical elements on what enables Refuge Chambers to save lives.
The following are some of the Benefits of Bost Groups Underground Mine Refuge Chambers
Protection from an irrespirable atmosphere
An atmosphere is considered to be irrespirable under conditions where there is an immediate threat to life or the potential for irreversible adverse health effects.
Due to underground refuge chambers, workers can confidently stay shielded from asphyxiation which is the most silent and fastest killer of underground mine workers throughout the world.
The initial problem confronting an underground worker in the event of a fire is securing an immediate supply of breathable air. This is normally addressed by supplying underground personnel with an oxygen-generating self-contained self-rescuer. These devices allow a person to travel from an endangered position to a safe haven, such as a refuge chamber.
Fire is the most common cause of incidents leading to the use of refuge chambers.
Events that can give rise to an irrespirable atmosphere in an underground mine include;
- blasting or sulphide dust
- inadequate or loss of ventilation
- flooding, inrush of mud or tailings
- gas outbursts or intercepts
- extensive collapse of workings
Compressed air should be equipped to maintain a positive pressure and respirable atmosphere inside the chamber. There is a risk that the external air supply may be severed and, therefore, an independent means of supply must be provided.
Oxygen (O2) can be replenished by adding normal air, as long as the source remains available and excess carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) can be removed. Medical-grade oxygen in cylinders, sufficient for a full complement of occupants for 36 hours or more.
The provision of backup supplies from additional oxygen cylinders is recommended. Oxygen candles may be considered as an alternative back-up supply where appropriate however Bost group recommend additional space for air cylinders or an upgraded sized cylinder based on the consumption rate of 0.5 litres per person per minute.
Provide Backup Power and Communications to the Surface
A refuge chamber should be capable of 36 hours of self-sustained operation to allow sufficient time for a rescue to be completed. Some countries require additional uninterrupted power supply (UPS) time and certain industries require less.
Bost Refuge chambers are expected to support a full complement of occupants while operating in a ‘stand-alone’ mode (on an independent battery system without mains power or mine air) under the worst-case scenario. This scenario is measured from a large rubber-tyred vehicle catching fire when travelling in a main intake airway. The danger of re-ignition, a tyre explosion or both may persist for up to 24 hours to which it is deemed unsafe to approach the vehicle during this period.
In the case of an emergency, backup power as well as communications to the surface are paramount for dealing with the situations. Refuge Chambers support both of these, allowing emergency services to seamlessly communicate with those below if the need arises.
Technology and innovation in underground mines has allowed for additional communication options in refuge chambers including remote access camera monitoring systems, GPS, low battery surface reporting and access entry / exit alarms.
Provides a means of location during emergencies
The mining industry has some of the most well- trained, experienced and exceptionally equipped emergency response teams in the world and the team at Bost Group take our hats off to these personnel for their dedication and commitment to their craft every day.
Understanding who is working in the mine and their position is critical in efficient and safe extraction. Refuge Chambers provide an opportunity to safely gather, maintain and locate personnel.
Simple to use, easy to maintain and robust
The construction of a refuge chamber should allow for the circumstances under which it will be used and moved. Underground roadways are typically rough, and the equipment fitted inside and attached to the chamber is commonly damaged by vigorous movement, and therefore the chamber and its equipment mountings should be secure and durable.
All Bost chambers are mounted on a heavy duty skid base, made with 6mm steel plate and include additional high impact securing features to the internal and external equipment allowing them to be moved to different locations in the mine with minimal impact.
The operating instructions should be easy to locate and read and the operating system should be designed as simply as possible to ensure the reduction of user apprehension or unfamiliarity particularly during a life threatening situation.
Bost Group – Leading the charge in Providing Safe and Reliable Underground Mine Refuge Chambers
Bost Group has been providing portable and stationary Refuge Chambers to Australia’s underground hard rock mining industry for the past decade. Our mission is to improve the health and safety of underground workers by providing safe refuge chambers and our commitment to delivering a practical, simple to use, easy to maintain product that can be trusted in an emergency situation is the backbone to our foundations as an organisation.
With operations in Perth, Melbourne and Queensland, Bost Group remain committed in delivering a reliable and trusted product for exceptional value to our clients. Our product development and engineering teams work closely with our customers, our service team, and training divisions to ensure we provide maximum value for our clients globally.
We believe in partnering with our clients to develop customisable solutions best-suited to clients operations to fulfill their needs. This has seen Bost Groups success expand internationally to regions including Papua New Guinea, Africa, North America, Turkey and Indonesia.
For more information on our underground products get in touch with Bost Group today.
Contact Bost Group today at 1800 267 847 or contact us online