MSHA Wants to Reduce Machine-Related Deaths Through Technology
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) wants to save miners’ lives. The MSHA has announced a new rule to improve safety in US coal mines by making it mandatory to install continuous mining machines with proximity detection systems.
“It’s a system that sounds very ordinary, but it’s complicated to get it to function in the harsh environment of an underground coal mine,” said assistant US Secretary of Labor, Joe Main.
“We’re talking about miners getting crushed as one of the comparable causes of mining deaths and with proximity detection, we can make that disappear.”
Since 1984, there have been 35 deaths to coal miners after being pinned, crushed or struck by continuous mining machines.
The new proximity detection technology utilizes electronic sensors to detect motion or the location of one object relative to another. The technology is programmed to send warning signals and stop machines before making contact with miners.
“Simply put, the proximity detection final rule will save lives and has the potential to dramatically improve the safety of mining operations,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “It already has the support of many in the mining industry. In fact, a number of coal companies installed proximity detection systems long before there was a legal obligation to do so.”
To meet standards, proximity systems must:
• Move or reposition continuous mining machines to stop before contacting a miner;
• Provide audible and visual warnings on the miner-wearable component and a visual warning on the machine before it stops;
• Provide a visual signal on the machine that shows the machine-mounted components are functioning properly;
• Prevent movement of the machine if any machine-mounted component is not functioning properly (except limited movement for repairs);
• Prevent electrical interference that adversely affects the performance of other electrical systems in the mine;
• Be installed and maintained in proper operating condition by a trained person.
The rule will initially apply only to continuously active machinery but MSHA indicated it was planning to extend the legislation to all machines that are not of fixed positions in underground coal mining operations. The new rule will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 15 and become effective 60 days thereafter.
“Over the next few years we should have it fully implemented, so down the road, we should be able to eliminate these crushing deaths and injuries,” added Main.
Coal India Secures First-Of-Its-Kind Digital Deal
Coal India Limited (CIL) has appointed Accenture Solutions to digitally transform seven of its open-cast mines as the company strives to improve performance and increase coal production. Accenture is due to lay down digitalisation groundwork until March 2022.
The deal aims to increase coal production by 100 million tonnes (MT) by the end of FY’23. Once the minimum quantity has been surpassed, an agreed sum will be paid to the consultant for every additional sum of coal produced. This success fee will only be paid on the procurement of the minimum assured quantity.
The move will see heavy earth moving machinery (HEMM) fitted with digital sensors to monitor performance efficiency at all levels. Additionally, modern data analytic techniques aim to increase mine productivity and project monitoring through functional system management and effective observation.
An Exciting Venture For Global Mining
CIL, which aims to provide energy security in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner, hopes the move will help transform the entire business of mining operations and ensure higher volumes of coal are acquired at a lower cost.
“This is a first of its kind initiative by the company utilising digitalisation to ramp up coal output,” CIL has said.
A Digital Step Towards Enhanced Performance
Digitalisation is expected to take place at open-cast mines in Kusmunda, Gevra, Dipka of Southern Eastern Coalfields (SECL), Migahi, Jayant, Dudhichua, and Khadia of Northern Coalfields (NCL). Nearly 32% (188 MT) of CIL’s 596 MT output in FY’21 was accounted for by the seven selected mines. However, this new deal is set to see a large increase following the subsequent digital changes due to be made.
“Learning from the outcome and success of this model, we may replicate it in our other large mines,” says CIL, optimistic about the future following the modernisation of their mining.
It is expected that the move will help address roadblocks and guarantee corrective measures are put into place, ensuring the company is able to move forward with its aim of increasing output whilst remaining sustainable and eco-friendly.