Limitations of safety arrest mechanisms for mine shaft conveyances

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 95, No. 1065, 2002

S. Gorzalczynski, Wabi Iron & Steel Corp., New Liskeard, Ontario

The recent trend in underground mine developments is “bigger is better.” This is most certainly evident in the mine shaft and conveyances that operate within its compartments. Today, there are several new installations requiring mine cages that can transport up to 170 passengers. The technology in mine hoisting is advancing to address a combination of higher capacity requirements, deeper hoisting depths and faster winding rates, however, some areas of the hoist plant have not changed in the past 50 years. The most notable of these areas is the shaft compartment guide string and the conveyance mounted safety arrest mechanism. The technology in use today for the protection of passengers in a shaft conveyance from a hoist rope severance incident remains conceptually unchanged from Elisha Otis’ design of 1850. The actual retardation components, the safety dogs, have taken on several forms since Elisha’s invention with the last major design change occurring in the late 1940s. The arrest of a free falling shaft conveyance requires that the shaft guides withstand the energy imparted on them by the safety dogs. There are some very real limitations presented by the use of wood for this application. The new hoisting era will most certainly continue to demand larger capacity equipment, but also an increased awareness toward safety.
Keywords: Safety arrest mechanism, Mine shaft, Underground mining, Conveyances.