Extreme Mining, Extreme Measures
October 2014 - Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge of deep level mining is providing a safe environment for miners. Today, gold and platinum mines descend as far as 4km below surface in some cases. In this extreme environment, virgin rock temperatures often exceed 60°C, requiring sophisticated cooling methods and equipment to reduce temperatures to safe levels for miners to work in.
Due to the extreme environment, underground mining operations make use of some of the largest ventilation and cooling systems in the world, incorporating more than one type of cooling technology, such as evaporative condensers, mechanical refrigeration plants, pre-cooling towers and bulk air coolers, in order to ensure a safe mine temperature.
These cooling systems typically work by sending ice or chilled water down into the mine to reduce the ambient mine temperature. The systems are installed on the surface, underground, or a combination of both, depending on the depth of the mine.
Tektower, a subsidiary of IWC, has been at the forefront of developing ventilation and cooling system technology in the mining industry for over 30 years. Recent projects include manufacturing and installing these systems into the world’s biggest mining corporations, including Anglo Platinum’s Amandelbult Platinum Mine in Limpopo and AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng Mine in Gauteng.
Says Stuart Loftus of Tektower: “As a mine gets deeper, the challenge of cooling the mine increases. For instance, in very deep or hot mines where temperatures exceed 50°C, ice or chilled water coming from the surface would not reduce the ambient temperature to a safe level, which means that a further cooling system would need to be installed underground to re-chill the water or ice coming from the surface.”
The Mponeng Mine reaches average depths of 2.8km to 3.4km below surface and is one of the world’s deepest and richest gold mines. Tektower manufactured and installed a 15.1MV, six cell Ammonia (NH3) evaporative condenser for the refrigeration plant at the mine.
IWC has a proud association with the South African gold and platinum mining industry and has provided a number of large field erected condenser cooling towers as well as both surface and underground bulk air coolers.
“Bulk air coolers are used to provide large volumes of cold air. A bulk air cooler is essentially the opposite mechanical draught cooling tower and makes use of refrigerated water to cool down ambient air and deliver a stream of chilled air into the mine workings” said Roger Rusch MD of IWC.
Industrial Water Cooling (Pty) Ltd (IWC) are a specialist water cooling company, with specific strength and focus on evaporative cooling systems and cooling towers in particular. IWC was founded in 1986, specialises in evaporative water cooling for numerous applications. Some industries in which we are involved are:
• Power Generation
• Steel & Aluminium
• Food & Beverages
• Air-conditioning, Refrigeration and many other applications
For many years IWC has been a member of the CTI, Cooling Technology Institute, based in the USA. This association has as its member’s consultants, designers, constructors as well as end users of cooling towers. With years of expertise and practical knowledge, IWC offers bespoke PHE maintenance solution at cost-effective and competitive pricing.
Due to IWC’s extensive experience in the refurbishment of cooling towers it has undertaken in excess of 80% of the Natural Draught refurbishment work conducted in South Africa.
IWC has completed the on-line refurbishment of a Natural Draught Cooling Tower in Australia and also in South Africa & Zimbabwe. Contact IWC on +27 (0) 11 466 0699