ACARP ACARP ACARP ACARP
Underground

Underground Vehicle Design Standards and Statutory Implications

Underground » Health and Safety

Published: April 22Project Number: C3063

Get ReportAuthor: Terry O'Beirne, P Walton, A Morrell, M Bell, Adrian O'Malley | MineRisk, ACIRL

The Australian underground diesel vehicle fleet has evolved since diesel powered Baldwin locos were introduced in 1964. Today, there are some 1140 diesel powered free steered vehicles in service, and perhaps in excess of 100 track locos with various power sources. Caterpillar diesel engines predominate the market. Cable tethered vehicles like shuttle cars are numerous.  All underground vehicles classes in Australian collieries are virtually unique. Diesel powered free steered vehicles are between 15% and 30% more expensive to purchase, and 50% more expensive to operate than their counterparts in Australian underground metal mines. These cost premiums are largely due to a combination of the unique regulatory requirements and the few machines of any type built at any one time. Australian collieries appear to want to alter every machine before they consider it fit for use, and this is also adversely affecting their cost.

Whilst the mechanical design of cable tethered vehicles is similar to that in the country of origin i.e., USA, the electrical equipment is designed to specific Australian Standards.

The Australian market has been driven into a position where its unique regulations and attitudes preclude the efficient importation and use of overseas developed machines, which generally are built in larger volumes, and therefore should be cheaper. It also requires all diesel vehicles to be explosion protected regardless of the operational location.

 

Risks

Colliery vehicles can be associated with a number of significant risks, including:

  • their ability to ignite flammable gases and other matter 
  • loss of control, particularly on slopes 
  • pinch, entrapment & sprain injuries from use or maintenance 
  • injuries from unwanted release of stored pneumatic, hydraulic or spring energies

Of these significant risks, the ignition of flammable gas is isolated to those areas (generally close to the working face) where legislation requires the installation of explosion protected electrical equipment. However the other risks can be manifested at any place in any coal mine. This means that controls for these general risks should ideally be in place for all vehicles. However controls unique to flammable gas ignition, should only occur where there is some significant risk of flammable gas being present.

Whilst electrical installations comply with this principle, this is not the current legislative position with diesel powered equipment. there is a significant opportunity for change and reduced cost of ownership. Means of controlling vehicle access into hazardous areas are available and these uses should be evaluated.

The proposed legislative model for diesel powered vehicles in the USA, which has 3 classes of vehicle, is put forward as more reflecting the balance between risk and control, and should receive consideration here.

The existing legislation and Australian Standards provide little opportunity for innovation, whilst still managing risk to acceptable levels. For example, non polluting fuels like CNG and LPG are precluded because of the prohibition on spark ignition, and in NSW, because of the direct stipulation for diesel fuel.

Legislated raw exhaust gas (engine) emission limits, when coupled with legislated ventilation values, result in atmospheric gas pollution far less than the Australian community standards (viz Worksafe) and these stringent raw gas levels are restricting the introduction of new generation, high performance engines.

In particular, regulating diesels to produce limited NO is resulting in increased CO and particulates. It is suggested that largely unaltered diesel engines, used in normally ventilated mines, would result in atmospheric pollution levels, less than the appropriate Community Standards, and therefore the raw gas control is a costly and redundant measure.

 

Risk Review Results

A team of highly experienced industry personnel reviewed all the risks associated with operating vehicles. They suggested a number of activities which, if implemented, would improve the management of risks in a number of areas.

Low Energy Electrics

  • Fire suppression systems should be considered to counter electrical fires and may particularly apply to vehicles used in single entries. 
  • Design should limit the build up of static electricity for vehicles in hazardous areas 
  • Good practice codes and standards like IP55 should be applied to exclude dust

Electronic Systems

  • Design & operational reviews should incorporate potential errors with Programmable Electronic Systems 
  • The NSW MDG1 should cover this 
  • Controls for electronic systems should be incorporated in risk reviews

High Energy Electrics

A design guide is needed to cover all aspects of wiring. AS3000 may assist

Tyres

The Mine Managers transport rules should deal with tyre loadings

Speed Control Systems

  • Effective speed indication is needed. Alarms linked to grade and mass may assist
  • Direction indication needed.

Vehicle Cabins & Loading Systems

  • Correct ergonomic consideration is needed in design reviews 
  • Draft MDG on cab design to be applied 
  • Occupational safety requirements should prevail

Fluid Couplings

Guarding standards should be driven by occupational safety needs

Chemicals

  • A standard is required for traction battery use 
  • Dangerous Goods Acts should apply

Work Platforms

  • Australian Standards on elevated work platforms should apply 
  • Managers Rules should reflect risks 
  • Parts of vehicles should not become work platforms unless designed as such

Accumulators

  • Good engineering practice should apply. MDG1 gives some guidance. 
  • Wherever possible they should be eliminated from design 
  • Effective protection needed against bursting, impact damage, overpressure

 

Appendices

The report contains the following Appendices:

  • Appendix A: Risk analysis process and results
  • Appendix B: Legislation comparison.
  • Appendix C: Discussion on particulate emission and studies related to exposure.
  • Appendix D: Design restraints and costs of underground vehicles.

Underground

Health and safety, productivity and environment initiatives.

Recently Completed Projects

C27039True Triaxial Strength Of Coal Measure Rocks And Its Impact On Roadway Stability And Coal Burst Assessment

Rocks in the ground are subject to a range of stresses. The stresses...

C3063Underground Vehicle Design Standards And Statutory Implications

The Australian underground diesel vehicle fleet has evolved since di...

C3064Conveyor Belting And Lagging Shear Characteristics - Drive Drum Slip

The primary aim of this project was to investigate the relationsh...

Underground

Open Cut

Safety, productivity and the right to operate are priorities for open cut mine research.

Recently Completed Projects

C26029Geological Controls On Fluorine And Phosphorus In Bowen Basin Coals

Increasing global restrictions on fluorine in product coal prompted ...

C27038Establishing Self-Sustaining And Recognisable Ecological Mine Rehabilitation

In recent years an increasing interest has been placed on mining ope...

C27009Tailings Revegetation Project Through “The Vegetative Water Pump”

This project aimed to greatly reduce the water trapped below the cru...

Open Cut

Coal Preparation

Maximising throughput and yield while minimising costs and emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C27064Dry Beneficiation Using FGX And X-Ray Sorters

Conventional dry processing methods engage a single beneficiation de...

C26010Multi-Sloped Screening Efficiency With Changing Strokes, Frequencies, Feed Solids And Feed Rates-Pilot Plant Study

Optimising multi-sloped screens is often described as an art and the...

C28059Impact Of Water Quality In Coal Handling And Preparations Plants

The objective of this project was to deliver a concise reference do...

Coal Preparation

Technical Market Support

Market acceptance and emphasising the advantages of Australian coals.

Technical Market Support

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the production of coal.

Recently Completed Projects

C23052Novel Stone Dust Looping Process For Ventilation Air Methane Abatement

This multi‐phase project is concerned with the mitigation of m...

C27054Optimisation Of A Thermal Flow Reversal Reactor For Ventilation Air Methane Mitigation

Ventilation air methane (VAM) generally accounts for 50-85% of the t...

C28076Selective Absorption Of Methane By Ionic Liquids (SAMIL) - Phase 2 Demonstration In A Packed Bed Reactor

An alternative approach to high temperature oxidation of ventilation...

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Low Emission Coal Use

Step-change technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C17060BGasification Of Australian Coals

Four Australian coals were trialled in the Siemens 5 MWth pilot scale ga...

C17060AOxyfuel Technology For Carbon Capture And Storage Critical Clean Coal Technology - Interim Support

The status of oxy-fuel technology for first-generation plant is indicate...

C18007Review Of Underground Coal Gasification

This report consists of a broad review of underground coal gasification,...

Low Emission Coal Use

Mining And The Community

The relationship between mines and the local community.

Recently Completed Projects

C16027Assessing Housing And Labour Market Impacts Of Mining Developments In Bowen Basin Communities

The focus of this ACARP-funded project has been to identify a number...

C22029Understanding And Managing Cumulative Impacts Of Coal Mining And Other Land Uses In Regions With Diversified Economies

The coal industry operates in the context of competing land-uses that sh...

C23016Approval And Planning Assessment Of Black Coal Mines In NSW And Qld: A Review Of Economic Assessment Techniques

This reports on issues surrounding economic assessment and analysis ...

Mining And The Community

NERDDC

National Energy Research,Development & Demonstration Council (NERDDC) reports - pre 1992.

Recently Completed Projects

1609-C1609Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

1301-C1301Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development...

Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development and Extraction Operations

0033-C1356Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals...

Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals - An Industry Handbook

NERDDC