Australian Sealing Practice and Use of Risk Assessment Criteria - ACARP Project C17015


The US Sago mine disaster in 2006 caused mine seals to be destroyed by an atmospheric explosion. Investigations into the appropriateness of seal strength requirements to withstand a pressure event followed. New designs have been developed and various changes in US regulations implemented. Australian reviews of coal mine safety in the mid 1990s after the Moura Number 2 explosion in a similar way directly resulted in changes to management of hazards in Queensland. An Australian Coal Association Research Project (ACARP) funded research project has been undertaken with one of the main objectives being to examine views of Australian operating mines on the industry's approach to the use of seals; also the new US approaches to sealing and their possible application to Australian conditions. The research is current and results interim. While in many ways approaches to underground coal mining in Australia and the US are similar, Australian approaches to the management of hazardous mine atmospheres differ significantly. Australian risk management approach to handling hazardous situations implies adoption of international industry best practices. There has been a move for Australia to consider and possibly adopt new US standards for seal pressure rating codes. The Australian industry has gone through a debate on how the new US information on seal behaviour and new regulations should be incorporated, if at all, into Australian practice. However the industry as a whole, including mines' management, state inspectorates and mining unions have decided not to adopt the principal dictates of the 2008 US seal regulations. The second part of the ACARP research project being led by SIMTARS is undertaking further physical testing study of the risk of explosions in sealed areas. This propagation tube study of the consequences of explosions is being conducted to both determine the nature of the explosion overpressures that a structure can be subjected to and also the nature of the pressure pulses that will impact on the structure. During the tube studies an analysis of a number possible mine scenarios where a methane explosion could occur is being made.


Mining Engineering


Australian Coal Association Research Program

Keywords and Phrases

Coal Mine Safety; Mine Seals; Seal Strength Requirements

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2009 Queensland Mining Industry, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2009