Hardcastle, SG 2014, 'The continuing challenge to provide adequate ventilation and a safe environment in deep mines', in M Hudyma & Y Potvin (eds), Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Deep and High Stress Mining
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 41-54.
This keynote paper draws upon the author’s 35 years of experience in dealing with underground environmental issues primarily from research for, and collaboration with, the Canadian mining industry. Although particular to that scene, many of the issues at the basic level are universal and it is only their individual application and questioning how they may be employed and at what scale that differs. There will always be a dust, gas or other health concern; just the specifics will change. Ventilation will invariably be considered a major expense, but it is a necessity for production even if workers are removed to surface. The prime purpose of this paper is hopefully to generate critical thinking and debate to meet the challenges facing today’s industry and that of the future. Basic premises and how we arrived at our present state may need to be questioned. There are both old and new ideas that need to be researched and developed but they require the guidance of ventilation peers and increasingly a broader base expertise to succeed. Inefficiencies may be recognised, improvement methods may exist, but the corrective action can be prohibitive. Technological advancement will invariably bring change to the industry; when? is harder to predict. The law of diminishing returns can always apply, with the next advance requiring more knowledge and/or a higher cost than its predecessor, but once developed, commercialisation may make it cheaper. Although depth is a challenge, possibly more critical to the industry is the challenge to introduce new technology into the production environment that ultimately bears the cost, that may be adverse to risk, and can ill afford delay.
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