Taking a load off leads to safer mining
May 16, 2012

Ventilation tubes are used in underground coal mining in every development (production) panel in the mine. The tubes form part of the mine’s ventilation system in ensuring that fresh air flows through the mine to the coal face. 


Ventilation tubes are typically made of fibreglass and weigh between 33 and 40 kilograms, measuring up to three metres each in length. 


BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal’s West Cliff Mine has introduced new lightweight tubes underground which substantially reduces the physical effort required to lift the ventilation tubes. The mine site is one of only two in the world to implement carbon fibre ventilation tubes, and the first in NSW.


The world class carbon fibre tubes weigh only nine kilograms but do the same job and are easier to handle than the old tubes which weighed between 33 and 40 kilograms each. The design has substantially reduced the physical exertion for  workers performing the task. 


West Cliff Mine was awarded the coveted NSW Mineral’s Council’s Innovation Award as well as the popular People’s Choice Award for the new lightweight tubes and its innovative approach to finding practical solutions for health and safety issues. 


The Innovation Awards are renowned as the top honours within the NSW mining industry. They are held as part of the annual NSW Minerals Council OHS Conference, attracting around 550 delegates from all over the State.


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