STATUS OF VENTILATION AND COOLING IN SOUTH AFRICAN MINES

World Mining Congress
This paper will examine the challenges involved in ventilating and cooling South African mines, with particular emphasis on solutions to the issues of heat (generally associated with depth), mechanization and energy efficiency. Comparisons will be made with other international mining areas. Some of the deepest mines in the world are to be found in the South African goldfields. The Mponeng mine is approaching 4,000 m below surface, with virgin rock temperatures (VRT) of between 60°C and 70°C. Mining at these depths has only been possible with the use of large refrigeration plants supplying cold air, water and ice to the workings. In the Bushveld Igneous Complex, where most of South Africa’s platinum mines are located, similar VRTs are being experienced at significantly shallower depths. This is due to the different geothermal properties of the host rock between the two areas. Existing mines are being forced to go deeper and new underground mines are being planned and constructed in other areas with widely differing thermal conditions. South African metal mining has traditionally been labour intensive for historical reasons as well as for the narrow tabular nature of many ore bodies. Due to cost pressures and labour problems, some mines have been investigating the possibility of using mechanized equipment, both diesel and electric, to increase production and to improve efficiency.
Keywords: Mine; Mines; Ventilation; Cooling; Air; refrigeration; Temperature; Waters; Water;
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