Mining Publication: Safety Concerns Associated With the Use of Electrically Powered Haulage to Remove Workers from Mines During Main Fan Stoppages
The roles of main mine fans in underground mines are to induce airflow and continuously remove hazardous gases and dust. While most larger mines use multiple fans to accomplish these tasks, many smaller mines employ only a single fan. This paper concentrates on those mines having only one fan to provide ventilation needs. If this fan should cease to function, it is likely that methane concentrations will increase in some areas of the mine. As a safety precaution, Federal Regulations require that personnel must begin evacuating the mine within fifteen minutes after fan stoppage. Powered haulage can be used to transport workers to the mine portal as long as travel is through areas where hazardous levels of methane are not expected. To determine where methane will accumulate along haulageways during a fan stoppage, air samples must be taken at specific areas and analyzed for hazardous gases. During this study, procedures were developed for measuring methane levels along haulageways that are used to exit a mine following stoppage of the main mine fan. Methane levels were measured in four different mines at selected underground locations during four planned fan stoppages. In these mines the measurements taken only at the specified locations showed that, if workers had used electrically powered haulage to exit the mine following a fan stoppage, the methane accumulated along haulageways during fan stoppages would not have significantly increased the risk of an ignition.