One of the positive outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic is that mining operations all over the world have had to reassess safety. In addressing conditions around the mine to prevent the spread of the virus, many companies have also taken the opportunity to stress safe working conditions in many other areas.

In this issue of The Asia Miner, we feature two stories on safety. “Improving Mining Safety in a Developing Country” focuses on PanAust’s operations in Laos, operated by Phu Bia Mining Limited, specifically the Phu Kham copper-gold and Ban Houayxai gold-silver operations. The introduction of modern mining in these operations uncovered the need to build workforce capability and develop employees through training and the implementation of management standards.

“On the Road to Zero Harm” focuses on the embrace of a new generation of integrated predictive systems such as wearables to drive safety and health.

But there are other areas that also need to be emphasized too. According to Dräger, you must focus on all elements of operational safety in order to avoid and mitigate mining hazards. Mining operational safety begins before a person even enters a mine.

  • Warning employees about exposure to hazardous substances such as toxic dust, and diesel and blast emissions, and protecting them from such hazards is extremely important. 

  • In addition to carbon monoxide, nitric oxid, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, diesel exhaust gases also contain fine particles of soot. In 2012, this so-called DPM – Diesel Particulate Matter – was classified as a Group 1 carcinogenic agent by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). As a consequence of this, numerous occupational safety standards in the international mining industry now specify a significantly lower threshold limit values for DPM and the gaseous emissions in working environments.

  • Whenever workplace threshold limit values are lowered, companies face challenges that require suitable measuring instruments and methods to reliably detect the lower values. Extremely sensitive and reliable gas detection technology is needed in order to be able to monitor compliance with strict limits. 

  • Wherever heavy diesel operated machinery is in use, the mine operator needs to implement measures to protect employees against inhaling diesel particulate emissions.  

  • Ventilation is the lifeline for miners. It ensures that firedamp, diesel emissions and blast fumes are extracted from the mine. But constant monitoring of the above-ground atmosphere is also necessary, especially in areas where safety is critical. 

  • Implement drug and alcohol education. Whether above or below ground, employees must fully concentrate on their work because these activities require a high degree of safety. Drugs and alcohol not only affect a person’s productivity, but also their ability to react. Operating heavy machinery and working with toxic or explosive substances while under the influence of drugs or with residual alcohol in the bloodstream pose a high accident risk. 

Stay safe out there.

Kuhar.PhotoMark S. Kuhar, editor

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(330) 722‐4081

Twitter: @editormarkkuhar