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A breath of fresh air - PDF


									16     MINE VENTILATION

                      A breath of fresh air
                      Carly Lovejoy looks at mine ventilation systems and their utilisation

                              he main function of an underground        located in similar climatic regions can
                              ventilation system is to provide a        be used as examples and benchmarks,
                              safe, comfortable working environ-        such as uranium mines located in the
                      ment in all accessible areas of a mine.           Russian and Canadian Arctic, although
                         This means that:                               each operation should be treated on
                      • Contaminants including explosive                an individual basis.”
                          fumes (containing nitrous oxide and
                          carbon monoxide), airborne dust, and          KEY COMPONENTS
                          naturally occurring gases such as             Primary ventilation systems have three key
                          methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen             components: all underground workings,
                          sulphide and radon are diluted to safe        including the main adit or decline, capital
                          levels by airflows of sufficient quantity     development, main shaft, stopes and
                          and quality;                                  production areas; specific ventilation
                      • Sufficient oxygen is supplied to workers        workings such as ventilation shafts, raises     important to have in the warehouse. In a
                          underground;                                  and drives; and the ventilation equipment,      metals mine this may mean continuing
                      • Air temperature, speed of movement              including the main fan required to circulate    operations; however, in a gassy situation
                          and humidity remain between the legal         air through the primary circuit. In addition,   such as a coal mine it may mean keeping
                          maximum and minimum levels, and at a          ventilation controls such as walls, airlocks,   explosive gases from building to
                          comfortable level as far as is practicable.   stoppings, air crossings and regulators         dangerous levels.”
                         Ventilation regulations and associated         can be added to improve the function and           Secondary ventilation is used in
 “Ventilation         legal levels for contaminants, temperature,       control of the primary ventilation system.      development headings and production
  regulations         air speed and oxygen vary from country to             Primary ventilation fans are generally in   areas at the end of drives. Fresh air is
                      country. These are mainly dependent on:           continuous operation to keep a constant         brought to the working area from the
    and asso-         which commodities have historically been          flow of air moving underground. Coal            primary ventilation system by an auxiliary
  ciated legal        mined; the general labour legislation; past       mines are always ventilated by parallel         fan, via vent ducting, and flows back in the
     levels for       accidents; the level of scientific knowledge      primary vent circuits as methane can build      drive. Secondary ventilation fans are
                      regarding pollutants and to what degree           up in the air if too many workplaces are        turned off during blasting in each heading
contaminants,         this knowledge has been translated into           ventilated by the same flow. Uranium            to prevent damage to the vent bag, and
 temperature,         legislation; and the legislative, political       mines need to have single-pass flow             therefore need to be located in a safe
                      and social environment of the country.            through ventilation systems to remove           location, which is ventilated by the primary
    air speed            The circumstances in which it is                       radon gas as quickly as possible as     system. Extra components such as ancillary
 and oxygen           comfortable for personnel to                                    the daughter products of          control systems for dust suppression,
    vary from         work are subjective, and                                            radon, which are formed       gas drainage, refrigeration and heating
                      vary strongly between                                                  within a short time, are   systems can be added to ventilation
   country to         region and country.                                                      more dangerous than      systems with specific requirements.
     country”         The main aims should                                                      radon itself.              Mr Fuykschot comments: “Primary
                      be the prevention of                                                         Daniel Stinette,     surface fans range from 200kW to 1MW,
                      fatigue, overheating,                                                      senior ventilation     while auxiliary fans range from around
                      and under-cooling,                                                         engineer at Mine       25-200kW. Each fan type has a specific fan
                      which could                                                               Ventilation Services,   curve, which describes the relationship
                      negatively affect                                                        says: “The type of       between pressure rise and volume flow
                      health and safety.                                                      fans used varies,         rate for a constant impeller speed (rpm).
                      Conditions should be                                                  depending on the            Similarly, the relationship between
                      reasonably comfortable as                                          system parameters, and can     pressure loss and volume flow rate is
                      far as can practicably be                                    include combinations of              the most commonly used system
                      arranged. As the layout of a mine is              vane-axial, centrifugal and mixed-flow          characteristic. Ideally, the duty point is
                      constantly changing, the effectiveness of         fans from 5-3,000kW, arranged in parallel       close to the peak efficiency of the fan.”
                      the ventilation system will vary over time.       or series on the surface or underground.           To determine the size of key ventilation
                         Jurgen Fuykschot, senior mining                Primary and booster fan arrangement             system components, SRK recommends
                      engineer at SRK Consulting (UK), explains:        varies, according to a variety of system        modelling the system using specific
                      “Engineers designing a mine should                parameters, and should be optimised             programs such as Ventsim, VnetPC and
                      always be aware of the local mining               through the use of modelling software.”         VUMA to simulate the ventilation network
                      legislation and regulations with regard to            Rob Pope, vice-president of Jet Air,        and optimise the design. By combining
                      ventilation. Awareness of international           explains: “Generally, if one larger fan can     the mining schedule with the ventilation
     At Sao Bento     best practice standards and available             meet the performance level required,            design, capital expenditure can be planned.
    mine in Brazil,   equipment may lead to better or more              two smaller fans will be chosen instead.        Programs such as Ventsim and ClimSIM
    Cogmacoustic      efficient mine designs, especially when           If one fan experiences a failure, at least      can also run thermodynamic modelling to
 installed a single   specific mining regulations are non-existing      50% of the ventilation is operable until        determine the size of heating or cooling
    stage fan with    or outdated and can possibly be changed.          repairs are made. If a fan is a critical part   installations, where required.
         16 blades       “Mines producing the same commodity            of the operation, a spare fan or parts are         To ensure all these components are in

                                                                                                           July / August 2010       www.                     .com
                                                                                                            MINE VENTILATION                                     17

                                               time if their inhalation is not prevented.       the most common being the planning of          Two-fan mine
                                                  Mr Stinette explains: “Varying ore types      egress routes and/or refuge locations in       ventilation system,
                                               and mining methods dictate the type of           the event of an underground fire.              exhausting out
                                               ventilation system required. For example,           Dariusz Holod, ventilation expert at        of a vent raise
                                               gassy coal mines would require significant       Stantec Mining, says: “The most common
                                               attention to the dilution and removal of         emergency factored into mine design is
                                               methane. Equally, coal mines, which are          underground fire. Ventilation system
                                               susceptible to spontaneous combustion,           designs will include escape-ways, fire
                                               would require a different approach. In           doors or even the reversal of ventilation
                                               metal mines, the difference in ventilation       fans. There is mine fire-evaluation
                                               systems for a small, narrow-vein and             software that can be used specifically for
                                               high-grade deposit and a large-scale and         ventilation design at coal mines.”
                                               highly mechanised operation can differ in           Geographical location, surface climate,
                                               both scope and size.”                            virgin rock temperature, thermal gradient
                                                  Mr Fuykschot says: “The final ventilation     and depth of mine will determine the need
                                               system should be designed to operate at          for additional heating or cooling. Heating
                                               the maximum expected capacity of the             is generally undertaken on the intake air to
                                               mine, with enough spare capacity to              prevent ice forming in shafts and ensure
                                               account for factors such as leakage,             comfortable working conditions. However,
place, have the correct capacity, run          blockage by machinery and expected gas           heating may lead to lower geotechnical         Jet Air fan
properly and are adequately maintained,        inflows. The ventilation system capacity is      stability of the surrounding rock at           mounted in a
continuous monitoring systems can check        ideally linked to the life-of-mine plan to       operations located in permafrost.              bulk head
that fan operation, gas content, air speed     prevent under and excess design capacity.
and temperature are at the correct levels.     Under-capacity can lead to unhealthy and          Fan types
Dedicated ventilation personnel are a          unsafe situations, and may cut or limit
legal requirement in most countries when       production levels. Excess design capacity         Axial: high-volume, low-pressure fans either directly driven
designing and maintaining ventilation          after the maximum production capacity is          by the motor shaft (motor inside the tube body) or remotely
systems for mines, and it is important that    reached leads to unnecessary operational          driven using belts (motor outside the tube body). Volume is
management adopts a good ethos                 costs such as power and maintenance.”             adjusted by setting the pitch of the adjustable blades on the
towards staff safety.                             The type, size, work location and              rotor and, in some cases, motor speed can be tailored to
                                               mobility of mining machinery must also            adjust volume and pressure.
SYSTEM DESIGN                                  be considered during the design phase.            Centrifugal: low-volume, high-pressure fans consisting of a
Ideally, ventilation engineers would be        This is directly related to production            multi-bladed, squirrel-cage wheel in which the leading edge
involved from the early mine-design stage      levels, and all machinery, particularly           of the fan blades curve towards the direction of rotation.
to prevent the need for costly correction      diesel-driven equipment, requires sufficient      These have low space requirements, low tip speeds and are
later on, which could affect production if     ventilation to work at optimum levels. If         relatively quiet.
the capacity of the ventilation system is      insufficient ventilation is provided, areas of
under-designed.                                the mine could potentially be shut down.
    When designing mines and suitable             The mining method itself – whether it is
ventilation systems it is important to take    mechanised or uses blasting – the amount
into account the commodity or product          of explosive used per tonne, and the
being mined. Requirements will vary widely     amount of broken material and dust
as some mines will experience higher           generated also need to be considered.
levels of potentially toxic or explosive       With regard to mine layout, the
gases released during the mining process       capital access method – ie decline,
or generate more dust than others.             adits or shaft – need to be
    Coal mining releases methane, which        designed with production and
can build up to potentially explosive levels   ventilation requirements in mind
if it is not properly regulated. Coal mines    as changing the size of a shaft
are often extremely dusty due to the nature    after development is very costly
of extraction. This dust is susceptible to     and will halt production. Vertical
spontaneous combustion and can cause           and lateral expansion will also
numerous respiratory conditions such as        influence the number and size of
black lung during prolonged exposure.          extra ventilation openings, such
Uranium mines produce high levels of           as raises and drives, required.
radon, which builds up in confined spaces,        Mines with decline access are
exposing workers to background radiation       generally located closer to the
and it can cause diseases such as radon        surface than those accessible via
poisoning or lung cancer.                      shafts. Increased (relatively cheaper)
    Operations that extract sulphide-type      access to the surface environment will
ores often produce hydrogen sulphide in        have a big impact on ventilation system
large quantities, which can cause oxygen       design and infrastructure requirements.
deprivation and sulphide dust explosions.      Near-surface mines typically require less
Fibrous materials such as asbestos, the        (or zero) cooling than deeper ones.
particles of which are released into the air      Various emergency scenarios will need
during mining, can cause fibrosis over         to be factored into the ventilation design,

 www.                     .com      July / August 2010

     The fan duty                                                                                                                        for fan power and size calculation.”
     point and its                                                                                                                          Mr Holod adds: “In most cases, newly
   curve illustrate                                                                                                                      designed cooling systems are located on
 fan performance                                            Fan curve                                                                    the surface. It is also common to design
 when confronted                                            Fan duty point                                                               ventilation and cooling systems as part of
                                                            Mine resistance
    with the total                                                                                                                       a mine expansion when new ventilation
  mine resistance                                                                                                                        shafts or raises are added. Some existing
                          Pressure (Pa)

                                                                                                                                         mines use underground cooling systems
                                                                                                                                         because the surface infrastructure does
                                                                                                                                         not allow for the construction of big
                                                                                                                                         cooling plants.”

                                                                                                                                         MANUFACTURERS & ENGINEERS
                                                                                                                                         Suppliers of mine-ventilation system
                                                                                                                                         components include: ABB; ABC Industries;
    “Ventilation                                                                                                                         Accutron Instruments; Agapito; American
          system                                                                                                                         Mine Door Co; AMCO Plastics; Austcold;
         capacity                                                     Air flow (m3/s)
                                                                                                                                         Bluhm Burton Engineering; CIMCO; ECE
                                                                                                                                         Cogmacoustic; Continental Fan; Daltec
        is ideally           In deep mines, air heats up due to                     advance to prevent downtime caused by                Industries; EOL Vent System; FläktWoods;
  linked to the           adiabatic compression in the downcast                     the development and installation of                  GIA Industri; Howden; Jet Air; JP Jensen;
                          shafts, combined with the heat generated                  refrigeration equipment in shafts or drives.         Korfmann Lufttechnik; Mine Ventilation
    life-of-mine          by machinery and the rock mass, so it can                    Nabil El Hajjam, ventilation sales                Services; Mining Equipment; Minova;
             plan”        be difficult to cool the air sufficiently                 engineer at ECE Cogmacoustic, says:                  Mirarco; NRCan; Proton; Rocvent;
                          without a refrigeration plant. Although                   “The cooling plant is always fitted to the           Schauenburg; Stantec Mining, and Zitron.
                          extra capital and operating costs are                     inlet network. Because it is cumbersome                 A number of engineering and design
                          associated with refrigeration plants, and                 and requires a lot of energy, it must be             consultancies, such as SRK Consulting,
                          their application is limited to certain areas,            installed near the electrical network. It            provide services for mine ventilation
                          operations are often made possible thanks                 also generates a lot of heat, which is not           design, installation and operation. Mining
                          to their use where, otherwise, legal limits               desirable inside the mine. The cooling               Magazine spoke to a selection of suppliers
                          would prevent staff from working.                         system produces head losses, which                   and consultancies to find out the scope of
                             Sufficient space must be designated in                 need to be taken into consideration                  services and products on offer.

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       • Large hub factors (large hubs-short blades).              Diameters: from Ø500 up to 2.240 mm
       • Precise hub-casing design (small gap between              Motors: from 5 up to 500 kW per stage
         the casing and blade tip).                                Air flows: from 3,0 up to 175 m3/s per stage
       • Aerodynamically designed blades.                          Pressures: up to 6.000 Pa per stage
       • Guide vanes.                                              Stages: 1-5 stages per fan-station
       • Low sound levels.
       • Heavy duty design for mining and tunneling.

                      GIA Industri AB, P.O. Box 59, SE-772 22 Grängesberg, SWEDEN, Phone +46 240 79700, Fax +46 240 79725, E-mail:, Internet:
                                                                                                          MINE VENTILATION                                       19

                                                 Common ventilation controls
                                                 Stoppings: used to close off cross-cuts to prevent the air in one entry from moving into the return air of
                                                 the adjacent entry. Permanent stoppings are made of concrete blocks or other non-combustible material.
                                                 They are used in areas where ventilation is well established and are tightly sealed against the sides of the
                                                 tunnel (but often include doors for miners). Temporary stoppings are used in working sections of the
                                                 mine where ventilation is changed as needed and are usually made of canvas, brattice cloth or plastic.
Two-stage fan at Sao Bento mine,
installed by Cogmacoustic                        Check curtain: made of brattice cloth, canvas or plastic, they are hung across a passageway, but are open
                                                 to let miners or machinery pass. They fasten only at the top and deflect intake air into the working area.
ECE COGMACOUSTIC                                 Line brattice: used to course air from the last open cross-cut to the working face. It is extended as mining
Cogmacoustic designs and manufactures            progresses to keep the air flowing to the face. Brattice extends from the end of the check curtain to within
ventilation solutions tailored to each           3m of the working face.
mining project. Its scope of supply includes:
                                                 Overcasts & undercasts: intake and return air paths often intersect. As a result, overcasts and undercasts
primary and secondary axial fans; wet and
                                                 are built to allow the two air currents to cross without causing a short circuit. Undercasts are seldom used
dry dust collectors, and electrical control
                                                 unless the roof is unstable as they tend to fill with water or debris, which would slow down the air current.
systems. In addition, ventilation training,
audits and air-quality measurements can          Mine doors: used to control ventilation in areas of heavy traffic such as main haul roads. The doors are
be provided on request.                          usually hung in pairs to form an airlock, which prevents a change in ventilation when one of the doors is
   Mr El Hajjam says: “Our ventilation           opened. The doors can be manual or automatic. If manual, they are hung in such a way that the air
systems are used in mines in Europe and          pressure will close them if they are left open accidentally.
North Africa, particularly in Morocco, but       Regulators: used to ensure proper air distribution, regulators are designed to meet the needs of each air
we have also equipped gold mines in              split. Located in return airways, they are often sliding doors/windows built into permanent stoppings.
South Africa, Mali, Niger, Brazil, Indonesia
and the Philippines. Some recent projects        Box checks: conveyor belts are usually in or near intake air passages and, to avoid pollution in the event
are located in Turkey, Canada and                of a fire, they need to be isolated from the main airways. Box checks are stoppings built at either end of
Zambia. Some of our largest customers            the belt to limit the intake air flowing over it.
include Managem, Ma’aden Gold,
Randgold Resources, Areva, Arava Mines,       mine in Morocco. The exhausted air was            Corp’s São Bento mine in Brazil from
Antam, Vale Inco and VKG.”                    very abrasive and the firm made fans with         2005-06, installing a single-stage and a
   In 2000, Cogmacoustic installed two        stainless steel impellers to improve their        two-stage fan, both with 16 blade
new fans in parallel at a Compagnie           lifespan. Cogmacoustic also undertook             impellers, to meet the extraction
    PG107_1-2Q 13/07/09 12:51 Page 1 Viviane PAO PAO•PUB:                                      COMPOS 2009: 07-JUILLET 2009:
Minière des Guemassa (CMG) base metals two separate projects at Eldorado Gold                   requirement of 95 m³/s at 5000Pa.

       42, route du Palais, BP 11575
       87022 LIMOGES Cedex 9 - France
       Tél. : (+33) 05 55 37 35 37
       Fax : (+33) 05 55 37 18 00

                                                                          COGEMACOUSTIC - FAN SYSTEMS AND DUST
                                                                          REMOVAL EQUIPMENT FOR MINES
                                                                          With more than three decades of experience in the ventila-
                                                                          tion and air treatment of mines, tunnel excavation and other
                                                                          underground works, Cogemacoustic has become one of the
                                                                          most reputed suppliers of dedicated fan systems and dust-
                                                                          removal equipment in the world.
                                                                          Cogemacoustic provides:
                                                                          • Economic and silent installations - through the use of fre-
                                                                          quency inverter equipped electrical cabinets, significant
                                                                          power savings may be realised (25%). The modular cons-
                                                                          truction of our fan/silencer units yields exceptional perfor-
                                                                          mances at low noise levels.
       Cogemacoustic manufactures energy efficient fans for mining applications. As a result of innovative design, the
       company's fans are capable of supplying a higher airflow/absorbed power ratio than equivalent conventional
       axial fans.
       Cogemacoustic's standard range of fans is capable of supplying airflow of 5m3/s to 230m3/s (11,000cfm -
       500,000cfm) at a working pressure of 250Pa to 7,000Pa (1in - 28in w.g.) per stage. Comprised of one, two or
       three stage configurations, Cogemacoustic offers varying levels of sound insulation, enabling customers to find
       the just balance between budget and environmental requirements.

   Zitron primary       In 2009-10, the company installed a         STANTEC MINING
 fans installed by   specially designed secondary ventilation       Stantec offers: mine ventilation modelling;
  SRK Consulting     fan at Loulo gold mine in Mali, called         ventilation infrastructure design (structural,
                     ‘The Magic Fan’, which is capable of           electrical, automation and mechanical); and
                     supplying fresh air to the long galleries      main fan selection and auxiliary ventilation
                     while maintaining an acceptable                system design, plus cooling and heating
                     sound level.                                   system design for underground mines.
                                                                       Stantec regards firms such as Vale-Inco,
                     MINE VENTILATION SERVICES                      BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Mosaic Mining and
                     MVS offers a range of engineering              Carmen Copper as some of its main clients.
                     services and products for underground          Mr Holod says: “One of our most interesting
                     mine ventilation, including: design and        and challenging projects was the design
                     optimisation; future modelling; cost           and installation of ventilation systems for
 “The Magic          benefit system analysis; heating and           the Panda mine at BHP’s Ekati diamond
       Fan is        cooling calculations; climatic simulations;    operation in the Northwest Territories.          automation was probably the most
  capable of         diesel-particulate matter measurement          Access to the Panda mine was via the             complicated aspect. These had to include:
                     and control; shaft sizing and optimisation;    same decline as the Koala North mine.            changes in air quantities (reduction in air
   supplying         training; and software packages for               “Due to varying depths, Koala was             flow during shift change = reduction in
 fresh air to        ventilation modelling, fire simulation and     located in permafrost, while Panda               diesel fuel consumption); changes in
                     climatic analysis.                             was below the permafrost. Koala had no           outside air temperature; a 2-40 variation
    the long            MVS has worked on six continents and        heating system requirements, but the             in underground air temperature, and
   galleries”        in most major mining regions. The              Panda mine encountered water below the           remote operation of the system.
                     majority of its clients are located in North   permafrost line and needed an air-heating           He adds: “The start-up and initial
                     and South America.                             system. The design had to take into              operation of the Panda #1 ventilation fan
                        The company is currently involved in a      consideration extreme weather conditions         and heating system was successful, with
                     number of projects, such as: the design of     such as temperatures as low as -45ºC,            few challenges. The most significant was
                     ventilation systems for new block-cave         high winds and drifting snow, and lack of        the use of a ‘waste engine oil’ system
                     mines; fire-modelling for a large system of    natural gas or propane commonly used to          instead of diesel fuel. Initially, the oil
                     interconnected mines; and optimising the       power heating systems.”                          delivered to the system was dirty and
                     size, location and timing of new shaft            With only diesel fuel available, an           caused plugging of the burner nozzles.
                     constructions for a longwall coal-mining       indirect heating system had to be used.          This was solved by pre-cleaning the oil
                     operation.                                     The design of the instrumentation and            and mixing it with cleaner diesel fuel.

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           ROAD AND MINERAL TECHNOLOGIES                                                                            

                                                                            Wirtgen GmbH · Reinhard-Wirtgen-Str. 2 · D-53578 Windhagen
                                                                            Phone: +49 (0) 26 45 131-0 · E-Mail:
                                                                                                                  MINE VENTILATION                                  21

                                                                                                     ventilation systems for compliance with         Mine ventilation
                                                                                                     regulation, and help with ventilation           installation at
                                                                                                     surveys and updating emergency plans.           Flying Fox mine,
                                                                                                        From 2003-07, SRK worked on the              Forrestania,
                                                                                                     upgrade and expansion of ventilation            Australia
                                                                                                     facilities as part of the mine expansion at
                                                                                                     Consolidated Minerals’ Beta Hunt nickel
                                               screens and mounting stands. Jet Air also             mine in Western Australia. The mine was
                                               supplies spiral, steel ventilation ducting,           restarted in 2003 after being mothballed.
                                               rolled on site,” adds Mr Pope. Jet Air fans           The Beta deposit was mined immediately
                                               are mainly sold to clients in North America.          after reopening and rehabilitation, but the
                                                                                                     Hunt deposit was abandoned. Instead, the
                                               SRK CONSULTING                                        focus was on developing the link between
                                                                                                                                                     “Panda mine
                                               Underground mining engineers at SRK                   the Beta and East Alpha orebodies.              encountered
   “Problems associated with air               have the capability to design a mine                     Geological information indicated a           water below
temperature measurement and control            layout and the associated ventilation                 large resource in the East Alpha and Beta
were resolved by the relocation of air         system for most scenarios. For specific               south extension, which required further         the perma-
temperature sensors from the fan elbow         requirements, such as the design of                   exploration. Access to these areas is far       frost line and
to the bottom of the ventilation raises.       heating and refrigeration installations or            from the surface and the ventilation
The subsequent design of the Panda #3,         uranium mining, associate specialists are             system serving the mine was incapable of
                                                                                                                                                     needed an
Koala #1, and #2 fan and heating systems       available. For coal mining, expertise on              supplying the air quantity required for all     air-heating
included all the enhancements applied to       ventilation and methane extraction is                 of the new mining and exploration.              system”
the Panda #1 system.”                          provided by SRK’s coal-mining division.                  SRK created a two-stage strategy to
                                                  The firm offers a four-day, on-site mine           deal with the immediate exploration
JET AIR                                        ventilation training programme for                    requirements, and future development and
Jet Air makes a line of axial flow fans from   engineers. The course demonstrates the                production requirements of the mine. This
46-213cm in diameter, all supplied with        sequence and work structure required to               included: a full evaluation of the current
aluminium hubs and adjustable, forged          provide essential ventilation services,               mine ventilation infrastructure; creation of
aluminium blades. Fans are available in        efficient operation of the system and                 a ventilation model for computer simu-
standard and silenced configurations. “As      compliance with mining and health                     lations; a ventilation upgrade study, based
well as fans, we offer all the hardware to     regulations. In addition, SRK can                     on a mining study; and a subsequent
complete the installation such as cones,       undertake reviews and audits of                       equipment and system design upgrade.

                                                                               Fans with forged blades

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