The development of the first Australian underground mining Shaft Rescue System (SRS), a collaboration between the Queensland Mines Rescue Service (QMRS), Anglo American, MCA and the Becker Group, will lead a new era of a mine safety for Queensland underground mining operations. The impressive machine was recently demonstrated at Aquila Coal mine, near Rockhampton, QLD.

The rescue system consists of a mobile, truck mounted moulded capsule that is lowered hydraulically into the mine shaft, operated via a Volvo 10*4 truck engine. It incorporates multiple fail safe braking systems and a back-up power system. A world first ‘intrinsically safe directional Wi-Fi communications system’ with spare UPS batteries that can be charged in the truck contributes to its exceptional safety capabilities, according to QMRS. The cage allows interchangeable options to respond to the requirements of the rescue and can descend over 1200m.

Anglo American’s Head of Safety and Health, Marc Kirsten said: “The shaft rescue system will improve emergency response capabilities across all underground mines in the Queensland mining industry, and it was important to us to make this investment in industry safety.”

Anglo American have been focussing heavily on safety across their operations with the $2.3 million investment in the SRS a demonstration of their commitment.

“Our unwavering focus is on driving consistent performance across our operations – which starts with the safety and health of our employees – and progress towards our full suite of sustainability ambitions,” said Chief Executive of Anglo American, Duncan Wanbland. The company has a broad portfolio, mining and processing copper, diamonds and platinum group metals, as well as iron ore, coal, polyhalite, and nickel and manganese and owns 85% of De Beers Group. Recent quarterly reporting showed EBITDA (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) of $8.7billion in the first six months. Mr Wanbland said these were the companies second highest for a half year, in spite of ‘considerable challenges’ posed by numerous factors facing companies worldwide including Covid 19 absenteeism, supply chain disruptions weather events and geopolitical volatility.

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Operating three underground coking coal mines in the Bowen Basin, QLD, partnering with QMRS made sense for the mining group. QMRS is a not-for-profit that has been providing mine rescue services since 1909 and currently offers safety expertise to the mining industry. The organisation specialises in rescuing trapped and injured miners, assisting with other mine emergencies and run a comprehensive range of training courses in all aspects of mine safety.

Their core activities are to provide assistance to mine operators during rescue response, training personnel in breathing apparatus and emergency response, and maintain and provide equipment for the purpose of mine incident rescue operations. To this end, QMRS have built up an impressive equipment collection that can be deployed at a moment’s notice, with the SRS the latest in their arsenal.

Chief Executive Officer of QMRS, David Carey said, “This equipment will make a meaningful difference to our emergency response capabilities in Queensland and will be housed at our Dysart headquarters in the heart of the Bowen Basin, so it’s close by if ever required.”

The new mobile shaft rescue system will be available for all Queensland mining operations with more training exercises planned at the Aquila mine site.


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