New bulk air coolers at Ernest Henry Mine worth their weight in cold!

Our team at Ernest Henry Mining recently installed three new bulk air coolers to make the underground environment safer for our people.

Underground mining involves working in a complex and often challenging environment. Ventilation is a critical control in our underground mines with fresh air constantly being circulated throughout the mine to ensure we protect the well-being of our people and keep them safe.

It's also important that we endeavour to effectively cool our below ground operations to help our employees manage working in a 'hot' setting.

A 'hot' work environment is one where a worker, either on the surface or underground, can be affected by heat if the appropriate controls are not put in place to help protect their health.

Ernest Henry Mining (EHM) General Manager Aaron Harrison says that's why the team at EHM were busy in July installing three new bulk air coolers that will help to cool the underground mine.

"We have significant variations in seasonal temperatures in north-west Queensland, and rock and ground water temperatures increase as the mines depth increases so additional engineering controls are required to ensure the working environment underground is safe," Says Aaron.

"The three bulk air coolers, each weighing an impressive 18.2 tonnes, were carefully moved into position by crane."

"These will deliver a cooling capacity of 10.5 megawatts and the airflow into the shaft will now be 430 cubic metres per second which will improve working conditions in the underground operation," Aaron says.

The bulk air coolers work by using cold water to cool air that is then sent underground. Cold water is pumped from the re-fridgeration area down pipes which pass across the face of the bulk air coolers which have huge fans that draw air across them and down the shaft.

Aaron says that while ventilation and cooling in the underground mine are extremely important, there are a number of things that employees can personally control that play a part to mitigate the effects of a hot environment.

"Having a good general level of health and fitness, being adequately hydrated, monitoring work rates and wearing breathable, cotton hi vis clothing will all help workers manage and acclimatise to underground conditions."

"The safety of people is our top priority and it's crucial that everyone understands the personal and environmental factors when working in a hot environment, to avoid any heat-related illness," says Aaron.