Storing explosives underground, in close proximity to active mining operations, poses a serious risk to the safety of miners. A global gold mining company understood this problem and searched for a solution to minimise the risk, as well as satisfy stringent industry regulations. Having had a good relationship with the FS Group, the client reached out to the company, which consulted with other experts and in-house resources to develop a concept proposal.
The concept system was a quick-response water deluge system which would result in complete saturation of the entire area. Detailed schematic drawings were produced, supported by hydraulic calculations to provide functionality of the design. Once approved, specifications for the water supply were issued and construction at a dam 100 metres above the risk area began.
The procurement and fabrication team obtained all the raw materials and began the preparation of the components for transportation and assembly onsite. Sprinkler heads, valves and other items were packaged for safe delivery, valves and solenoids were wet-tested, and interfaces were set up and pre-commissioned. All equipment was then shipped to the mining site.
FS Group selected an electrically actuated water-type sprinkler system as the method of fire extinguishment and control. The sprinkler heads were positioned with consideration of the practicality of the desired location in the excavation tunnels.
The sprinkler heads selected allow the discharge of a minimum of 25,9 litres per minute, per nozzle, and cover an area of around 4,5 m2. This is a dry system, and all nozzles in a zone will discharge water should the system be caused to operate.
Steel piping was used in the risk areas and all exposed pipes were wrapped with an impact-resistant, fire-retardant material. Valve components were tied into the water supply and prefabricated sections of pipework were fitted and hung from the tunnel roof.
An Edwards EST3 fire alarm control panel was used as the primary fire detection system, to which other detection solutions were fitted. The combination of the detection technologies provides a double-knock detection network that was designed for highly sensitive fire detection capabilities with the highest immunity against false alarms. Any combination of two or more devices will cause the system to operate the solenoid units on the deluge valves.
The EST3 system was integrated via fibre-optic connectivity into the mine’s site-wide Edwards fire detection network, which was the standard in use at the mine at that time. Secondary activation of the sprinkler system was done via the operation of one of two manual call points which are located on the emergency exit routes from the storage magazines.
A tertiary activation of the sprinkler system was done through a third-party system and is monitored from a remote location.
This underground system was interfaced into the site-wide fire control network using fibre-optic networking components. Live testing and a comprehensive handover were done to prove the functionality of the system, and the result was an automatic, electronically actuated water deluge system for the underground explosives magazine, complying with the best engineering practices and current regulations.
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