Establishing Total Airflow Requirements for Underground Metal/Non-metal Mines based on the Diesel Equipment Fleet
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Traditionally, ventilation requirements for modern, mechanized underground mines have been based upon the power of the diesel equipment fleet, with a multiplier (determined from empirical data collected and compiled over a long period of time or required by regulations) being applied in order to determine the total airflow volume requirements of entire mines and/or individual sections or working areas. Often, in the absence of unusual geographic, climatic or geologic conditions that warranted special consideration, the airflow required for the dilution of diesel exhaust products would provide sufficient ventilation for the entire mine. However, recent studies regarding the health-effects of diesel exhaust, particularly the relationship between exposure to diesel emissions and cancer in humans, coupled with additional scrutiny on so called greenhouse gas emissions, have resulted changes to the regulations for engine and equipment manufacturers to provide cleaner burning and less polluting equipment; and are currently causing profound uncertainty in the mining industry. This influence is particularly felt in the case of ventilation engineers and those involved in long-term mine planning who have responsibility for designing the ventilation systems of both existing and future mining projects around the world. This thesis identifies the major parameters affecting airflow requirements for diesel-powered mining equipment and examines how each of them will change in scale and scope in the aftermath of regulatory changes mandating drastic reductions in the type and amount of diesel engine emissions. Culminating from this research, a new procedure for making total airflow determinations based on the underground diesel equipment fleet is proposed and tested with a practical case-study. Ultimately, the determination of the amount of airflow required for an underground mining operation or other sub-surface facility can depend on several factors, including the equipment fleet, ambient temperature, rock type, mining method and airway type (or use). Obtaining a universal, repeatable protocol for determining airflow quantities required for underground diesel equipment fleets is in the best interest of the industry as a whole, including ventilation practitioners, mine-planning engineers, mining financiers, executives, equipment manufacturers, and of course, the mine workers themselves, who perhaps have the most at stake of anyone involved in the equation.