A working ventilation system is crucial to any underground mining operation, but the way miners have ensured a fresh air supply deep underground through the years has changed and grown more advanced. Today’s miners stand on the backs of thousands of years of miners come before them who’ve continued to improve mine ventilation in order to unearth flint, silver, gold, coal, diamonds and other valuable buried treasures. Plascorp has taken a deep dive into the history of mine ventilation practices – from Neolithic fires to canaries to advanced automated systems.
Brushwood fires – 4000BC till the industrial revolution
Mining is no recent venture. In fact, European miners have been digging tunnels in search of flint since 4000 BC and throughout the Neolithic. They lit brushwood fires inside the mines, which promoted airflow from the surface down into the mine shafts. This technique was rediscovered by medieval Greeks and Romans and was heavily used in Britain during the industrial revolution alongside increasingly sophisticated ventilation shafts.
Power-driven ventilators and Canaries
We’ve all surely heard the term a canary in a coal mine – a popular metaphor stemming from the very real practice of bringing canaries down into the coal mines as a noxious gas detector. Being more vulnerable to toxic gasses the canaries sat in small cages and would sing until they became ill or died from toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide, at which point the miners knew it was time to evacuate the cave. This practice began in 1911 and lasted as late as 1986 in Britain – when they were replaced by an ‘electric nose’ an electrical gas detector.
Mining to the future
Today, the deepest mines reach nearly four kilometres into the ground and require a sophisticated ventilation system to ensure safe and reliable airflow. Mining contributes around eight percent of Australia’s GDP and represents nearly 60% of all exports. Ensuring that the men and women working in the mines have fresh air to breathe is paramount to the industry. That’s why today’s mining ventilation systems have grown incredibly complex and advanced, with ducting systems that are easily adaptable to each mine, and completely automated systems.
Investing in quality mining ventilation
Today mining companies have a wide range of mining ventilation systems to choose from, all adaptable to their mines and needs. Plascorp supports Australian miners with the most reliable ventilation systems on the market, and remain at the forefront of industry innovations in order to continue to bring only the highest performing systems to their customers.