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Coal mining company Kangra recently conducted a successful simulated underground emergency procedure at its Mpumalanga mine. The purpose of the drill was to evaluate the effectiveness of underground refuge bays, designated safety areas for miners during emergencies.

The drill was a collaborative effort with Coaltech, a coal industry research organisation, and the South African Colliery Managers’ Association. It provided insights into the current state of refuge bay facilities.

Twelve volunteers participated in the simulation, spending over 30 hours in a refuge bay under continuous camera surveillance. Coaltech, supported by Ex Solutio, monitored various physical conditions within the bay.

The research, led by Coaltech project leader Inus Labuschagne, is part of a broader initiative to determine the structural needs for life-sustaining underground facilities and to understand the human impact during emergency situations.

The results of this research will be disseminated to the coal mining industry, aiming to enhance safety standards and emergency response protocols.

Pieter du Preez, the mine manager at Kangra, noted the drill’s role in providing essential information that could benefit the wider coal mining community in South Africa.

Menar Group health and safety manager, Ricardo Van Rooi, stressed the significance of continuous learning, resource allocation, and regular emergency drills. He concluded, “By sharing learnings and best practices derived from the emergency drill simulation, industry stakeholders can work towards achieving Zero Harm.”

The completion of this emergency drill is a step towards enhancing miner safety within the South African coal industry.