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Evaluating Mine Cooling Systems and Mine Ventilation Strategies to be Applied in Deep and Hot US Mines
AuthorGreth, August V.
AdvisorKocsis, Karoly C.
Mining and Metallurgical Engineering
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Metal production in the United States contributes significantly to the national and global economies due to resource demands. As mineral reserves are becoming scarce, demand has driven mining companies to operate at increasing depths underground. Along with this, production has continued to increase year after year, as lower grade ores are excavated economically. However, the increased mining depths and increased production have resulted in enlarged heat loads in the underground mine environment. Increased heat loads can result in temperatures, which are too high for mine workers to safely work. This may cause heat related illness, injuries or even death. Mine operators must pursue heat reduction strategies in order to maintain safe temperatures to protect mine workers.There are a number of heat mitigation methods and strategies which mine operators can implement. The most common means is through the use of ventilation to provide cool air volumes to reduce the heat load and dilute the contaminants generated in the production workings below their threshold limit values (TLV). This can be done by increasing the fresh air volumes through surface accesses such as shafts, raises, adits, ramps, or other mine entrances. When ventilation alone cannot provide acceptable climatic conditions in the production workings and throughout the mine, artificial cooling methods need to be used. These methods can be very effective, however, they require large capital investments, continuous maintenance, and additional operating costs. This includes central cooling, spot cooling, and micro-climate cooling systems. Though reducing the heat load is effective, another strategy is to reduce the source of the heat generation. One such source is the heat generated by diesel engine equipment fleet. This can be decreased by switching to a battery/electric engine equipment fleet. All of these strategies can be compared based off their heat reduction, temperatures, and operating costs. This study does exactly this by using an underground metal mine’s ventilation system to compare various scenarios, and identify the most effective cooling method or system that can be used in deep and hot US mines.