Design, development and fabrication company Unique Ventilation & Support Systems (UVSS) has developed automated, high-pressure roll-up polyvinyl chloride (PVC) doors to control airflow in underground workings.
The doors can also be integrated with new mining technologies.
In underground operations, mines typically work on a partitioned ventilation system, wherein different areas are sealed off from one another to minimise risks, by, for example, restricting methane gas build-up to a specific area while maximising control.
“These automated UVSS Roll-Up PVC doors are fitted with control panels that have open and close, or ‘pull’, switches. These doors can also be operated remotely if required, and a proximity detection system can be integrated into the panel and plugged into the door for automatic open-and-close functions,” says UVSS ventilation engineer Jakes van der Merwe.
The automatic function would allow for the movement of trackless mining equipment and locomotives.
The PVC doors are installed underground at stations in an air-lock configuration or as a single-door installation in haulages. They are installed to control ventilation and airflow in a ventilation district at each level of an underground mine, Van der Merwe explains.
In addition to contributing to the leap towards automation, the doors are also “the easiest and most cost-effective means” of controlling ventilation in underground operations.
The PVC doors are easy to install, require minimal maintenance and are easy to operate. Compared with the “standard and outdated”, manually operated wooden panel doors, as well as the pneumatic and hydraulic metal ventilation doors, they are also easier to replace if they get damaged, he adds.
Van der Merwe tells Mining Weekly that the first UVSS Roll-Up PVC door was developed in 2015 to replace inefficient and easily damaged wooden doors, adding that the first door was installed in a chrome mine in Rustenburg, in the North West, with positive results.
“Since the first installation, the doors have since been successfully installed in platinum, gold, chrome and diamond mines,” he concludes.