Studies on the early detection of spontaneous combustion in a hydraulic coal mine

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 789, 1978

R. N. Chakravorty, Research Scientist, Western Office, and K. K. Feng, Research Scientist, Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory, Mining Research Laboratories, Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Ottawa, Canada

Early detection of spontaneous combustion is of utmost importance in underground coal mining to prevent major disruptions of production and to ensure a safer working environment. This paper presents the work done in developing a suitable system for the early detection of heating in a hydraulic coal mine. Laboratory studies on the products of oxidation for Balmer 10 seam coal showed that a significant amount of carbon monoxide is produced during the early stages of heating and that detection methods based on the analysis of other gases, such as hydrogen, ethane or ethylene, are not a better alternative for this coal. The four-point carbon monoxide monitoring system recently installed at the hydraulic mine is discussed in this paper. It is believed that by studying the trend of carbon monoxide concentration in the mine air, it will be possible to detect heating at an early stage. Field tests carried out so far have indicated that infra-red technology will prove to be a powerful tool in the hydraulic mine, particularly for locating hidden oxidation or fire in cracks, fissures, underground workings and coal outcrop areas before it spreads extensively. The project is jointly sponsored by EMR, CANMET, Mining Research Laboratories and Kaiser Resources Ltd.
Keywords: Coal mining, Hydraulic coal mining, Spontaneous combustion, Carbon monoxide, Monitoring systems, Kaiser Resources Ltd., Ventilation, Infra-red scanners, Heating.