Homegrown dust innovation
Local solutions to one of the biggest issues confronting coal mining - dust
Wednesday 11 October 2017
With more than 20 cases of Black Lung in Central Queensland so far, the issue of ventilation and dust suppression has never been higher on the agenda.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and after twelve years of working at mines near Moranbah, David Brims decided there was a critical piece of underground infrastructure that was badly in need of some innovation.
“I came to Moranbah 12 years ago to work underground, and over the years I could see inefficiencies in the current mining processes,” he told Shift Miner.
“The main problem I could see was that we had below standard solutions to some of our ventilation challenges, and it seemed like they were ready for some innovation.
“What we developed wasn’t rocket science, we simply designed a new exhaust system that worked in a similar way to the existing exhaust fans, except that we used bladeless air fan technology which gave us a system that had no moving parts.
“We called it the VTEX Ventronic which did the same job traditional exhaust systems were doing, only it was quicker and had better production times.”
After spending months developing a prototype, David and his business partners embarked on the sometimes costly process of testing and certification.
“The testing is always difficult and ongoing, “ he said.
“We are working with Simtars and trialling different applications that are targeted at reducing dust levels.
“We have also developed VTEX safety collars that are a simple, lightweight alternative to the old-fashioned timber or steel supports.
“We have to get those tested annually by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA), but we think they are the best solution on the market.”
David says they are also looking at other products to compliment what they are already doing, and they have recently become the exclusive importers and distributors of Rivers carbon fibre vent tubes which he says are a game changer in the market.
“We are obviously looking at applying the technology to other mining environments, but our focus remains Central Queensland,” he said.
“We live here, and this is the best place at the moment to get our products out and about.
“The industry as a whole has improved dramatically in the last six months, and we are seeing a lot of new and returning companies to Moranbah and surrounding areas.
“The vibe is vastly different from 12 months ago.”