Impact of Mine Accidents on Production Outcome and the Need to Prioritize Safety

D Melvin Nyonneoh Karwah  |   4 mins read April 1, 2022 | 2 | 258 eye icon

Introduction

Mining is the exploitation or extraction of economic mineral resources from their natural state. The extraction of minerals has been going on since prehistoric times in many parts of the world. Today, mining exists in most countries and includes exploration for minerals, extraction of minerals, and preparation, including crushing, grinding, concentration, and washing of the extracted material. Mining operations can be classified into five major categories in terms of their respective products: coal mining, metal ore mining, non-metallic mineral mining and quarrying, oil and gas extraction, and support activities for mining. Oil and gas extraction is not considered in this anthology.( Eva Vingård & Kaj Elgstrand, 2013). 

The earth is composed of natural minerals, most of which are very important to mankind. Mining has thus been the building block of human civilization. However, this process called mining has seen great evolution and innovation since its primitive state. From the tools used for mining to the methods of mining, there have always been significant changes to optimise the process and make it safer.

Mining is considered to be one of the riskiest jobs due to its nature. In the early days of mining, accidents which led to injuries and fatalities were common. Since the introduction of Heavy Mine Machineries, the rate of traffic-related accidents has also increased. Fortunately, the prioritization of workplace health and safety through different legislation has drastically reduced the rate of accidents, injuries, and fatalities in mines across the world. In this article, we take an analytical look at the downward impact of accidents on the output of mining operations.

 Impact of Accidents

A mining accident may simply be defined as an accident that occurs in the process of mining minerals from underneath the surface of the planet. Each year, thousands of miners die from mining accidents, particularly in the area of coal mining and hard rock mining.
 
There are various causes for the occurrence of mining accidents, including leaks of poisonous or explosive natural gases, collapsing of mine stopes, dust explosions, flooding, or general mechanical errors. B.S. Dhillon (January 2010). Mine Safety

Accidents, in general, have negative impacts ranging from property damage, injuries to personnel, or death as well as loss of time and money. In mining, accidents can affect the production time, cause injury or death of employees, damage properties, waste production time and reduce output. Direct costs include compensation costs, costs associated with damage in the workplace and the costs of interruption of production. Indirect costs include the costs of livelihoods lost, income to dependents, and the cost associated with caregiving by families and the community. Poor communities tend to bear the brunt of externalised indirect costs, but today mining companies can also suffer a loss of reputation and withdrawal of investment capital. (M.A. Hermanus, August 2007)

For instance, when an accident occurs involving a vehicle and a worker, the following possibilities arise:

  1. Injury to the personnel or death. The company will incur the cost of treatment in case of injury or benefits and other legal obligations in case of death. Since the worker will not be available, there is a need for replacement.
  2. Property damage: Depending on the intensity of the accident, there may be damage to the vehicle which would require mechanical repair or maybe the necessity to purchase another vehicle.
  3. Time lost: In mining, time is a factor of almost all the equations. It affects every aspect of the operation negatively or positively, depending on how it is managed. Accidents in mines can pause a section or even the entire operation, which has a trickle-down effect on the production target. During 2005–06, days lost through occupational injuries on mines in Western Australia totaled 20,849, while in that period there were 462 LTIs. In addition to the initial injuries, there were 38 recurrences of previous injuries, resulting in 1,044 workdays lost .( MINESAFE Vol. 16, No. 2 — September 2007)
  4. Loss of money: As mentioned above, accidents lead to huge, mostly unbudgeted expenditure, and this can affect the output of the mining operation.

Based on the aforementioned factors, it is increasingly clear that there is a need to prioritize safety which is the surest way to reduce accidents in mining operations.

Conclusion

In modern mines, Environmental Health and Safety should be the number one priority of all companies before the production target. Doing so, you logically make production target your number one because the former depends on the latter. Once safety is prioritized and accidents are avoided or minimized, production automatically increases. The prevention of accidents in mines is crucial and starts from the engineering, job procedures, safety legislations, best operation practices, PPEs, and others.

Melvin Nyonneoh Karwah
Mining Engineer
Deko Mining Corporation (Avesoro Resources)
Liberia
Master in Engineering Management
Batch 2022

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Maximo   1 month 1 week ago

Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your blog posts.

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UniAthena   1 month ago

Thanks...

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