Aside from supporting thousands of jobs worldwide, the mining industry provides raw materials, minerals, and metals critical to the global economy. For countries such as Australia, resources corresponds to a large proportion of their export share, with resources equating to 68% of global exports in 2023. Natural resources provide the foundations for modern living, innovation, the transition to renewable energy and global engineering achievements.
Despite the rewards, it is important to recognise that underground mines are high-risk work environments, posing many physical, chemical, and biological hazards for the workers. As with any risks, however, there are ways to mitigate the risks associated with underground ventilation. Air ventilation is critical to any mining operation, diluting and removing toxic and potentially explosive gases. They’re also necessary for regulating the temperature inside the mine, which can get searing hot due to the heavy machinery used.
Underground mining ventilation can control the air quality by providing fresh air to dilute and remove contaminants such as dust, diesel fumes, heat, and stagnant air. Different types of ventilation fans are available depending on the application, but they all share the same goal – supplying air to keep miners safe while working underground.
Primary Ventilation Fans
Adequate ventilation is essential for any mine to ensure the safety of workers and the persevation of machines and equipment. The primary ventilation system provides the necessary paths for air to flow in and out of the mine. This system composes of Primary Fans (also known as Main Fans), which pump fresh air into the mine and remove contaminated air from the mine.
Large fans typically mounted on the surface or below ground, suck the air through the mine at 150 cubic metres per second with the aim of replacing the air underground every 20-40 minutes. In larger or deeper mines, this may require more than one return airway or an additonal Booster Fan. Large underground mines in Australia can move anywhere between 450 – 900 cubic metres of air per second through their main decline.
Minetek has a proven track record of supplying the largest available Primary Fans for underground mining ventilation. Our innovative Primary Fan solutions can deliver economic savings, durability and flexibility not thought achievable with traditional fans.
Secondary Ventilation Fans
Secondary ventilation systems involve the provision of ventilation to development ends, stopes and services facilities that constitute secondary circuits tapped off the primary circuit or main through the flow of air. These may be “dead end” in configuration or be “parallel or “series in parallel” circuits.
Secondary Fans also known as Auxiliary Fans, are used to supplement the primary ventilation system where airflow is stagnant. Whereas primary ventilation systems are typically located above the surface, Secondary (Auxiliary) Fans are smaller, portable fans capable of going deep into the mines. Secondary Auxiliary Fans are critical components of ventilation systems, helping to regulate airflow throughout all working areas of a mine. The deeper and more extensive the mine, the greater in importance secondary fans become.
Minetek’s Secondary Axial fans are like no other. They’re compact in size, 40% shorter, and 10% lighter than standard fans, while the high-pressure capability of Minetek’s High Output (HO) Axial Fan is double that of standard fans comparable in size. This results in fewer fans needed overall, saving costs in the long run, while the low-profile ducting makes installation much easier than other fans on the market.
Mines can be ventilated solely using primary fans or in combination with booster fans. A Booster Fan is a large underground fan installed in series with the main surface fan and is used to boost the air pressure of the ventilation passing through the air ducts.
Adequate design and utilisation of a Booster Fan provides benefits to reduce the main fan pressure, leakage, and consequently ventilation cost; especially with a high resistance network due to the deep and extensive working area in a mine. The installation of a Booster Fan may create uncontrolled recirculation if it is not sized and located correctly with respect to the Primary Fan.
Primary Fans are often installed as Booster Fans – the same fan, with a different application – for both return and intake airways. With Minetek’s ventilation solutions, you can strategically optimise underground airflow by connecting them with the main ventilation system, making it an optimum choice for booster ventilation.
Primary Fans are often installed onto bulkheads, which are retaining walls commonly used in mines to contain flooding. Bulkhead Fans are inflexible and highly durable wall structures and are, as such, one of the more costly elements of mine development due to the number of units required, the loss of efficiency, and installation costs.
Minetek can half the number of fans required on Bulkhead Fans, while their smaller size, lighter design and durable impeller allow for easier installation. Our innovative Performance on Demand (POD) and Mine Air Control (MAC) system will enable you to synchronise the Bulkhead Fans so they work in unison to create the ideal airflow for your underground mining operations.
Long Duct Runs
In underground mines, it is common for duct-fan auxiliary ventilation to extend over hundreds, in some cases thousands of metres. Typically, they are push systems made of either a single or twin vent line with one or two head fans in series, while some systems also use Booster Fans to supply the additional pressure to maintain the airflow. Such long vent lines require more careful design to ensure that the needed air volume is carried across the entire system with minimal losses.
The concentrated power of Minetek’s High Output (HO) Axial Fans makes them the ideal solution for Long Duct Runs. Installing a single Auxiliary Fan that can ramp up to the increasing duty point needed as the project expands can save time and money on installing additional fans. The fans also can surge past the required duty point to clear gases and dust for fast re-entry making Minetek the ideal choice for underground mines.
Minetek’s Air Solutions
Minetek is a global leader in providing innovative and cost-effective air solutions for the mining industry. With over 150 years of combined experience, Minetek specialises in engineering, designing, manufacturing, and implementing advanced solutions. Having successfully delivered over 3,000+ projects worldwide, Minetek has the experience and expertise to help your mining company achieve sustainable ventilation management outcomes.
Our comprehensive range of Auxiliary Fans has been proven to deliver increased productivity and reduce operating costs, all while granting flexibility to control the delivery of air when and where it is needed. Our innovative POD technology allows operators to precisely manage pressure and power to optimise airflow circuits without needing VSD control. The ability to integrate with all mining Ventilation On Demand (VOD) and mine communication systems creates a seamless, responsive solution. This optimises performance, reduces power consumption costs, and increases overall operational efficiency.
At Minetek, we are dedicated to helping our clients achieve sustainable ventilation management outcomes. We offer a comprehensive range of solutions designed to meet your mining operation’s unique needs. Interested in learning more about our ventilation that can improve the air quality of your mine operations? Please leave your details below.