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Advances in In-situ Testing of Ventilation Control Devices for Underground Mines

Greg Kay
Aquacrete, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Michael Salu
Parsons Brinckerhoff, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

ABSTRACT: As underground mines increasingly face the challenge of maximising production without losing focus on safety excellence, the ability to predict the effectiveness and identify defects in mine seals and stoppings plays an increasingly important role in mine ventilation management. While technologies for sample testing installed seals provides significant assurance, the difficulty of conducting tests in operational environments, combined with the production impact of destructive testing procedures, has led to the development of a new method for non-destructively testing ventilation control devices (VCDs). This paper addresses the challenges of in-situ testing and reviews the approaches previously employed to verify the quality of VCD installations. It then describes a new testing methodology jointly developed by Aquacrete and Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) and the range of tests that have been carried out in the laboratory, above ground, at trial underground sites and in active coal mine operations.

Over a three year period, Aquacrete and PB have co-operatively developed a method for in-situ, non-destructive testing of ventilation control devices. Although a new approach to testing underground VCDs, the method employs recognised testing equipment in a new application. The aim of the new non-destructive technology is to not only verify the thickness, and therefore overpressure rating compliance, of new VCDs, but to allow mine operations to identify and locate defects in installed VCDs without causing damage to the material structure. It is difficult, time-consuming and costly to carry out physical sampling and testing of every VCD. Therefore, a reliable and accurate means of non-destructively testing concrete and plaster seals in-situ will provide substantial operational and safety benefits to the underground coal mining industry.

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