Management of Explosion Risks in Underground Coal Mines with the Use of Bag Barriers


Since the year 2000, 59 miners have lost their lives to explosions occurring in underground coal mines in the US. More accurately, those explosions were methane ignitions that propagated through the mines due to coal dust involvement; despite current explosion prevention standards. There are 4 basic strategies employed to manage the risk of coal dust explosions in many other coal mining countries around the world: removal of the coal dust, wetting of the coal dust to prevent it from becoming airborne, mixing of the coal dust with stone dust to increase the total incombustible content, and explosion activated barriers which make the entire roadway inert. However, American standards only mandate the first 3 of these 4 methods. It is possible that US coal mine safety measures could benefit from the implementation of the 4th method, the use of explosion barriers. This paper will discuss differences/similarities in barrier regulations used in other countries, as well as some potential difficulties with adapting a stone dust bag barrier system to US underground coal mines. Also, details and feedback gathered from two operating mine site trial barrier installations will be shared.

Meeting Name

SME Annual Conference & Expo 2017: Creating Value in a Cyclical Environment (2017: Feb. 19-22, Denver, CO)


Mining Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Coal; Coal mines; Explosions; Laws and legislation; Underground explosions; American standard; Barrier systems; Coal dust explosions; Coal mine safety; Explosion prevention; Explosion risk; Stone dusts; Underground coal mine; Coal dust

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2017 Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2017