Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.
Transactions home

  SME FaceBook SME Twitter SME LinkedIn RSS Feed

Identifying and controlling heat-induced health and safety problems in underground mines

Mining Engineering , 2017, Vol. 69, No. 9, pp. 53-60

Kocsis, K.C.; Sunkpal, M.



An underground environment with high air temperature and humidity conditions generated from various heat and moisture sources can significantly affect the thermoregulation processes of the human body. This can lead to a series of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke. The majority of the metabolic energy of a mine worker results in the production of heat. If the human body is to maintain thermal equilibrium, then this metabolic heat must be transferred to the ambient surroundings at the same rate. The heat loss from the human body occurs through a combination of heat transfer processes, such as respiratory heat exchange, convection, radiation and evaporation. If the heat loss from the human body to the ambient surroundings is less than the metabolic heat produced, the excess will be accumulated within the human body, which will result in a rise in the core and skin temperatures. This can ultimately lead to a heat-related illness or a combination of heat-related illnesses. This paper aims to discuss major heat-related issues and provide an overview of various mine ventilation and cooling systems, which can be employed to overcome high levels of heat and humidity in underground mines. In this paper, the effects of heat exposure on the health, safety and productivity of the mine workers are also highlighted.