Reducing occupational hazards in mining in Myanmar

  • By U Kyi Win (Padaung)
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Mining can be costly in terms of lives.

News on unfortunate fatalities of workers suddenly creeps in at some mine accidents that occurred in many places such as that of Phakant jade mine; that of Thabeikkyin gold mine; that of Ohnchaw of Patheingyi rock mine; and that of Kalewa coal mine leaving sad stories and loss of lives. It happened over a short span of time.
Under many circumstances, most countries have adopted rules, regulations and enacted laws to decrease accidents.

Conference on reducing occupational hazards
The theme on the ways and means in reducing occupational hazards and safety in the mining industry was being taken up at a conference at M Gallery Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw on 6 and 7 May 2019.
Representatives from the government side, the employers’ side, the workers’ side, and experts from Singapore, Viet Nam, and the Philippines participated, which was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population and International Labor Organization (ILO).
In many countries, the laws with regards to relevant workplace safety and health act were being enacted, and that the representatives from Singapore, Viet Nam and the Philippines have shared their valuable expertise and vast experiences. Myanmar representative also participated and exchange views.
The Factories Act 1951 on occupational safety and health was enacted in 1951 and that the Law Amending the Factories Act 1951 (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Law No. 12 of 2016) and the Occupational Safety and Health Law, 2019 (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Law No 8 of 2019) have been in force.

Rock mine landslide meaning
Simply, the rock mine landslide means the large rocks and the earth slide down from the rock mountain due to lesser resistant of limestone. The definition of differential erosion could be categorized. Erosion that occurs at irregular or varying rates, caused by the differences in the resistance and hardness of surface materials; softer and weaker rocks are rapidly worn away, whereas harder and more resistant rocks remain to form ridges, hills, or mountains.
Niagara fall collapsed on 28 July 1954 and that 185,000 tons of rocks fallen and slide down.
During rainy seasons, the incessant rainfalls entered the pore and caused the rock mine erosion and landslide due to the heavy pressure of water.
There are many different forces in nature that cause erosion. Depending on the type of force, erosion can happen quickly or take thousands of years. The three main forces that trigger erosion are water, wind, and ice.
Water is the main cause of erosion on Earth. Some reasons include such as that of weak slope stability; that of the steep slope formation; that of plain weakness; that of weak outer layer; that of water that entered underground; that of fracture due to mine explosion; that of harder rocks dropped down and pushed the softer layer creating erosion and also landslide.
Rock-fall and landslide bring great danger with heavy force, and that rainy season is to be earmarked with red alerts, where the expert surveillance is very much vital and critical.
The good pattern of hard rock layer formation maintains the mine from erosion. Calcareous and sand stone bring fractures and forced the rock mining into disaster. In the limestone region and areas, the fractures are caused at the joints due to the factors related to calcites, igneous rocks, granitic rocks and orogenic elements.

Basic causes of rock erosions and landslides
(1) Repeated mining with explosive in the narrow rock mountains causing fractures.
(2) Due to harsh weather and the other three main forces that cause erosion of 84 per cent are water, wind, and ice. Water is the main cause of erosion on earth.
(3) Trees that grow on the rocks caused wedge and plug and caused the mountain collapse.
(4) Abundant acidity in the rocks due to profuse rainfalls then caused rock erosions.
(5) Due to repeated use of explosives in narrow areas, it caused seismic waves and pulled the rocks down.
(6) The tremors and vibration of the machinery at the working face weakened the joints and pulled down the rocks.
(7) The mining area becoming steeper and the mining design was erratic.
(8) Big boulders stick out as hanging stones resulting in weak attachment.
(9) Underground water existed in the area.
(10) Faults occurred due to earthquakes.
These were the factors that caused mining areas landslides.

Reducing mining landslides
Despite there are many factors causing mining areas landslide, it could be reduced the hazards by being careful and alert.
(a) Explosives should not be used at the same spot many times, and that it is advisable to select three spots for using explosives.
(b) Drill machines should be used as it could make lesser vibration.
(c) It is better to use millisecond delay detonators to reduce vibration.
(d) Cutting and removing the trees on top of the mountains could reduce the risks.
(e) Surfacing clearing is one of the methods in reducing the landslides.
(f) Reducing the working time on the edge of the mining areas is also a rule to follow.
(g) Slope angle, the bench height and the bench width are to be considered in drawing the mining design before actual implementation.
(h) When there are hanging stones at the edge, they are to be removed and pulled down with heavy machinery and explosives.
(i) Mining experts must always check the natural conditions of the mining areas and must conduct the sessions for briefing and discussions.
(j) Risky vicinity is to be demarcated and put up signs of “no entry” and “prohibited area”, and also with red flags.
In the modern age, technology is advancing fast, and therefore, prevention methods could be created.
On 16 October 2017, GEOBRUGG Company has developed the ROCKFALL-X G and ROCKFALL-X A damping system with the aim of increasing the level of protection and durability that rock-fall protection galleries provide. A total of 40 countries had recommended, and therefore, the system was awarded International Standard ETAG- 027 Certificate.
The impact of 10,000 Kilojoules could be prevented and, therefore, the system could avoid risky accidents.
Steel wire has been used in making various steel wire net, creating a support line with (1770 N/mm2) including the U – Brakes, and that they are selling at a moderate price, which is being preferred by many countries.
As of now, many countries are using this system as the modular system’s low weight reduces the static load on the gallery and facilitate not only easy installation but also reduce maintenance work after a rock fall incident. The ROCKFALL-X A damping system is also suitable as a temporary protection measure during construction works. Rock-Fall Protection Barrier system has been honored with world record.
As the “Rock Trap” system has been attached, the big boulder being pushed down with machinery would not make any harm and damage at the surface due to preventive mining design constructed. Berms are common safety features seen on mine property. Berms are found along haul roads and at dump sites and are often taken for granted. Windrows and guardrails are also included in the system.

Prevention of coal mine explosion
In the prevention of coal mine disaster, the responsible team must understand the chemicals and gas emitted in the area in details. They are as follows.
(Methane – CH4);
(Carbon monoxide – CO2);
(Carbon Dioxide – CO2);
(Hydrogen Sulfide – H2S)
(Hydrogen- H2);
(Sulfur Dioxide -SO2);
(Nitrogen Dioxide – NO2);
(Nitrogen – N2);
(Oxygen – O2);
(Acetylene – C2H2
Among them (Methane – CH 4) is to be managed with extreme and full care as it is inflammable. Methane is not generally considered a toxic gas, however, it is extremely flammable even in low concentrations when mixed with other chemicals – it is also asphyxiated as it will displace oxygen. This is particularly dangerous in confined spaces working.
Methane could ignite a fire under various circumstances.
Now, the “Personal Protective Equipments” are being widely used in mining areas.
Modern types of equipment have been added with the items such as that of Cap Lamp; Halogen Bulbs; and Respiratory Protection. Mine safety officers and mine design engineers are now using the instrument such as methane and carbon monoxide detector at the mining areas. The devices are the detector tube and the detector tube pump generally used at the coal mining sites.
The number of accidents would increase if the scenario goes unchecked, and that a clarion call is needed for the prevention of accidents at the mining sites in our country by abiding the rules and regulations with the international safety methods.
In conclusion, the writer of the article would like to urge all stakeholders to come together and work for the safety of the mining sites.

Translated by UMT (Ahlon)

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