Mining Publication: Forecasting Methane Hazards in Metal and Nonmetal Mines
Because of the high number of accidental methane gas ignitions in metal and nonmetal mines, the Bureau of Mines searched for a simple guideline that would allow mine personnel to evaluate the methane hazard in a given mine. Air samples were collected by the Bureau in 53 metal and nonmetal mines and analyzed for trace evidence of methane gas. Samples were collected in the returns and at the working faces. Those mines classified as gassy by the Mine Safety and Health Administration had a significantly higher average methane concentration than those classified as nongassy. Of the 9 gassy mines sampled, 7 had methane concentrations above 100 ppm, whereas only 1 of the 44 nongassy mines had a concentration above 100 ppm. The 100-ppm concentration may be used as a simple and convenient guideline for forecasting the methane hazard in a mine, whether or not the mine is classified as gassy. There was no consistent correlation between commodity mined and methane concentration, nor was there a correlation between mine depth and methane concentration. Neither of these factors can be considered a guideline for predicting methane hazards.