Refuge Chamber Update Proved the Importance of Safety

21 March 2016

Working in an underground mine is a dangerous working condition. There are numerous safety risks that can arise; from rock fall, wet muck, fires, cave structure support collapse, exposure to explosive material, and exposure to poisonous gases. PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) continue the effort to maintain the motto “Safety First, Production will Follow” in its underground mine operation as the biggest and longest underground mine in Indonesia for this reason extra safety measures have been made aware and implemented. One of the most expensive safety measure PTFI has implemented are the Refuge Chambers located in many different locations in the underground mines.

Refuge Chamber

Refuge Chamber is an emergency shelter installed in underground environments. MineARC has developed a standard range of portable refuge chambers that can be positioned and repositioned with ease, it provides an ongoing safety solution for dangerous work areas as in complex tunnel networks such as our underground mines. Currently there are 49 Refuge Chambers; 48 of them are portables which can accommodate on the range of 18-30 people, and 1 fixed chamber which can accommodate 300 people.

A Refuge Chamber has been installed with several vital life support systems that combine a safe, breathable atmosphere for its occupants for at most 36 hours. These systems include primary and secondary oxygen supplies, air conditioning systems, positive pressure systems, electrical systems, gas detection and CO/CO2 absorption systems (referred to as ‘scrubbing’ systems).

The Upgrade

Upon meeting with Mulyadi, General Superintendent UG Mine Safety, he automatically began explaining that prior to the multiple upgrades on already existing Refuge Chambers from a previous series to the latest series IV, several series IV Refuge Chambers were installed in the last quarter of 2015. “These refuge chambers were objectively to ensure the effectivity and necessity of upgrading the already existing Refuge Chambers” Mulyadi further explained.

On January 21, 2016 two MineARC technical experts started upgrading the 17 existing series I and II Refuge Chambers to the most recent series IV. “The previous series do not have voice prompt technology. The latest series is more user friendly - there is a bilingual voice prompt. This voice prompt goes through each and every procedural step to activate the Refuge Chamber” explained Oo Ye Htut Thant Zin, MineARC Technical Expert familiarly known as Yee. Yee continues on to explain that besides the user friendly computerized instruction voice prompt, there are changes such as a more compact chemical packaging, and there are reminder alerts for occupants to check on oxygen levels, carbon dioxide levels, etc. Overall, the latest series should provide a simpler activation system for its occupants.

“These refuge chambers are installed not because we’re anticipating a major accident, it’s here as an extra precaution – this is how far Freeport will go to ensure that its employees receive the best quality assurance of safety, “ said Mulyadi. He also hopes that these Refuge Chambers are just provided but never needed to be used. (imarischa)

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