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Emergency Response 

Authors: Jack Caldwell


This review describes the control of dust in mines, including the use of water and proprietary chemicals to control the emanation of dust from mine roads, tailings impoundments, waste rock dumps, and other exposed surfaces. This review lists technology resources, websites, case histories, and consultants who work in and provide services to mines in the area of dust control.


Some mines include the untimely death or kidnapping of an executive in their list of emergencies. Some mines limit emergencies to situations that could lead to the death or near-death of staff. Some mines plan only for emergencies resulting from earthquakes, fires, and hurricanes.

In the most general sense, a crises or emergency is an unplanned event that impacts upon the safety or welfare of personnel, or the continuity of operations, and which requires an effective and timely response in order to contain, control, or mitigate the situation.

Here are some conditions that lead to common mine emergencies:

  • Underground coal mining hazards include methane, coal dust, and coal's propensity to spontaneous combustion.
  • Underground metalliferous mining emergencies arise from rock bursts, rock falls, hangingwall and pillar failures. The unplanned initiation of explosives and sulphide ore dusts may also give rise to an underground emergency.
  • Surface mining operations involve risks relating to large-scale, high-speed mobile equipment, unplanned initiation of explosives, and slope stability.
  • Mineral Processing-related Emergencies includes hazardous chemical exposure, spill or leak, and tailing dam failure.

If you are in a hurry or need to know what is in a Crisis Management & Emergency Response Plan, simply skip the following text and proceed directly to the final section of this article where I provide my list of typical mine facilities, emergency causative events, and possible emergency responses.

Personal Perspectives on Emergency Response

“Fire destroyed the GeoPentech office during the early morning hours of December 30, 2005. We are definitely still in business and reachable by phone or individual e-mail. We appreciate your patience during this short transition” This brief announcement opens the website www.geopentech.com/. My daughter works for GeoPentech and phoned us with the news about 10 am on the day. All her university text books, notes, five-years of work files, and miscellaneous personal possessions were lost.

That same afternoon, I was at the hardware store stocking up on smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. The townhouse now looks, to quote my wife, like a fire station. But I still do not have rope ladders to get us down from the upper floor or a good mallet to break open the basement window. This weekend!

Even as I write, CNN is replete with news of miners trapped in a West Virginia coal mine—and as I edit for publication we mourn their deaths and grieve with their relatives and friends.

And this in an accompanying article: “Small, privately owned and worked by moonlighting farmers, the coal mine in Xin'an County in central China was like hundreds of others throughout the country. On Dec. 2, a nearby river overflowed, sending water pouring into the mine and drowning 35 miners. In most other countries, it would have been the deadliest industrial accident of the year. But in China, where more than 5,000 coal miners die on the job annually, it went largely unnoticed at a time when a pair of bigger disasters killed a total of 260 miners.”

Katrina blew away the offices of Charles Reith with whom I wrote a book many years ago. When I managed to contact him, he was upbeat—sitting in a golf cart careering around a golf course where 2,000 trees were down. He had been retained as the consultant to say how to clean up the golf course mess in an environmentally sound, sustainable way. As for his lost office, he was resigned and vowed to start again, but had no definite plans.

“A natural disaster of mammoth proportions” is how paramedic Magiel Erasmus described the scene underground after an earthquake brought a rock face down in Harmony’s Welcom mine on 9 March 2005. The earth tremor measuring five on the Richter Scale caused ten miners to become trapped underground and a rescue mission had to be launched to save them. This source is from a South African magazine Mining Review Africa, the contents of which are readily available free on line. I spent hours browsing through back issues trying to find out more about earthquakes and South African mines—I wonder if it was simply a rock burst?

I recall my own earthquake experiences: the frantic rush down an escalator to the sound of falling chandeliers in the Loma Prieta earthquake; the early morning awakening by the Northridge earthquake that sent the fridge across the kitchen and burst the pipes to flood the apartment below; and the panicked family gathering on a balcony after the Hector Mine earthquake that cracked the garage floor slab and destroyed the water barrier to the recreation room. We still have no earthquake response plan in the townhouse complex other than to hang a white cloth on the gate to signify that we are all safe.

Why Emergency Response Now?

I have never been properly prepared for an emergency. I suspect nobody else is, and mining consultants and mines themselves are probably no more prepared. From Industrial News Update this statement: “ In the midst of an active hurricane season and less than a year after the deadly tsunamis in Asia, a majority of EHS professionals feel that their facilities' emergency planning is not ready to handle a natural disaster, according to an online poll conducted by www.Enviro.BLR.com. Fifty-six percent of respondents said “no” when posed the question “Do you think your facility is prepared for a natural disaster?”

A fine perspective is at the Control Risks site at www.crg.com where they note the following about what they call a crisis:
Expecting the unexpected has become a corporate responsibility. A hurricane wreaks havoc… insurgents storm a compound for expatriates… demonstrations reach critical mass and riots ensue....an executive is kidnapped...
Whatever the threat – whether from natural disasters, acts of terrorism or civil unrest – companies need to be certain how long they should continue to operate and, if the intensity of the threat increases, when business operations should be wound down or, as a last resort, suspended. Given the enormous costs for each day that a company is not operating, the advantages of planning for operating in difficult environments and during crises are considerable. Control Risks helps its clients to prepare for a variety of unforeseen and potentially financially damaging events:

  • Political and security risk analysis – we monitor and analyze political and security developments in more than 200 countries.
  • Crisis management – we prepare for evacuation and return, and test existing plans; design and implement crisis management policies, plans and procedures; and provide strategic planning and on-the-ground support.
  • Business continuity – we provide an understanding of the risks and assist an organisation to prepare for and recover from disaster.
  • Contingency planning – we develop pre-determined responses to a wide range of threats from terrorist damage to health pandemics.

What is an Emergency Response Plan

Enviro.BLR.com recommends that, at a minimum, an emergency response plan involve:
  • Identify vital records and create a backup for storage in a safe place.
  • Train employees on what to do in the event of a disaster.
  • Compile and make employees aware of a list of emergency telephone Resnumbers.
  • Inventory and repair all disaster response equipment.
  • Identify emergency power requirements, and purchase a generator, if necessary.
  • Determine computer requirements for employees who must maintain operations during a disaster.
  • Verify that communications equipment is operational.
  • Collect, label, and store emergency supplies.
  • Ensure that your facility is in compliance with any legal or regulatory requirements.
Copies of EPA and OSHA emergency response regulation are available at Enviro.BLR.com. To help in the development of a disaster response plan, BLR provides a free copy of its feature article at Emergencies: Readiness Makes a Difference.

"Prevention is not only more humane that cure; it is also much cheaper. Above all let us not forget that disaster prevention is a moral imperative no less than reducing the risk of war." This quote from Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General introduced the I International Council on Mining & Metals volume Good Practice in Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Regardless of how successful the UN is in putting this precept into practice, the mining community can benefit from this 2005 volume. I particularly liked the case histories. Many are known; others fresh. All are well written and shed new light on practices that are in the interests of avoiding future emergencies.

The first part of the volume sets out the principles, practices and contents of a comprehensive emergency response manual. Here are the ten steps they recommend for compiling your own manual:

  • Identify emergency response participants and establish their roles, resources, and concerns.
  • Evaluate the risks and hazards that may result in an emergency situation in the community and define options for risk reduction.
  • Have participants review their own emergency plan, including communications, for adequacy relative to a coordinated response.
  • Identify the required response tasks not covered by existing plans.
  • Make changes necessary to improve existing emergency plans, integrate them into an overall community plan and gain acceptance.
  • Commit the integrated community plan to writing and obtain endorsement for it and relevant approvals.
  • Communicate final version of integrated plan to participating groups and ensure that all emergency responders are trained.
  • Establish procedures for periodic testing, review, and updating of the plan.
  • Communicate the integrated plan to the general community.

The stamp of practicality is on this volume. Probably this is because it was prepared by folk from the mining industry. Kudos to Alan Emery (RioTinto), Chris Anderson (Newmont), Joe Norton (Alcoa), David Rodier (Falconbridge), and Andrew Wood (BHP Billiton).

The Government of British Columbia at their site lists these attributes of a Mine Emergency Response Plan(MERP):

  • A management tool for preparing company personnel to assume the various jobs, tasks and duties which are necessary to cope with a mine emergency operation.  
  • Can be applied to a single mine or to a group of mines.
  • Can be used by all mine operators to develop a standard operations package for coping with all emergency situations, by organizing and preparing existing personnel to function and respond effectively.
The BC site notes further that emergency response procedures:
  • Are the guidelines and plans for personnel in place, in order that
    they may respond quickly and properly to an emergency.
  • Provide a common set of practices that govern the diverse and
    varied activities needed for an orderly response
  • Help mining officials implement strategies for early containment
    and control of a problem
  • Establish a common set of rules for training all emergency
    response personnel.
  • Set the criteria for the company's emergency response planning.
The Mining Association of Canada provides free for download the Guidelines for Corporate Crisis Management Planning. This is a comprehensive guide to preparing for an emergency on a mine anywhere in the world.Here is their list of crises that may affect a mine:
  • Release causing major environmental damage.
  • Major industrial accident.
  • Medical emergency.
  • Natural disaster.
  • Executive aircraft crash.
  • Workplace violence
  • Sudden loss of officers of the company.
  • Illegal detention by local authorities.
  • Kidnap/family liaison.
  • Terrorist attack/major sabotage.
  • Civil unrest.

EduMine Courses

Before you write or update your Emergency Response Plan, you need to identify the risks and decide how to respond. Somebody who may be able to help is Dr. Oboni www.oboni.com was promoting risk analyses on projects long before risk management became the buzzword it is today. Dr. Oboni has twenty years experience in risk assessment and management, hazard identification, mitigative programs and risk-based decision-making developed while dealing with intricate situations including cross-cultural and multidisciplinary environments worldwide. He is also the author of the EduMine course on Risk Management in Mining and the course An Introduction to Risk Assessment and Crisis Management for Mining Professionals.

Two other EduMine courses you might wish to browse are ambiguously titled Environmental Health and Safety—Emergency Preparedness and Environmental Health and Safety—Emergency Response Planning. The focus of both is on spills of noxious chemicals that might impact the environment or perturb the health and safety of receptors—hence the titles.The general principles incorporated into the courses are however applicable to the real disasters that miners fear: fire, earthquake, terrorist strikes, and civil disturbance. Some information is to be had at the three EduMine courses on Mine Safety and Rescue:
  • Underground Gas Hazards
  • Underground Fire Hazards
  • Terrain, Cold and Other Hazards


The most comprehensive Emergency Response Plan I came across is at the GlobalSecurity site where they provide the full text of the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan – Operational Plan.

A fascinating book, available for free download: An Oral History Analysis of Mine Emergency Response is by Vaught, Brnich, and Mallett, published by NIOSH in 2004.

Two big books on emergency response available for free download are linked at the GUTZ Incident Management Solutions website that also links to other valuable resources on emergency response. The first book I recommend is the National Fire Prevention Agency’s (NFPA) 1600 Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, 2004 Edition. The second is the 2004 Emergency Response Guidebook.

The Manual of Best Practice for Emergency response Procedures published by the Safety in Mines Research Advisory Committee (SIMRAAC). The primary objective of the work leading to this document was to provide coal mines with a comprehensive documented strategy to deal with emergencies arising from inrushes, fires and explosions. Specifically, the following outputs were produced:

  • Recommendations for best practices to deal with coal mine emergencies, with emphasis on inrushes, fires, and explosions.
  • A document from which training staff can formulate and check training manuals and practices.
  • A checklist to assist management to review their policies, standards and practices.
  • A review of the Department of Minerals and Energy guidelines relevant to emergencies in collieries.

On the Oboni Associates are free downloads of two books, namely Integrating Risk and Crisis Management and Uncertainties, Risk and Decision Making.

Consultants & Service Suppliers

No doubt most mining consultants will prepare an emergency response plan for you. I have prepared one for a landfill surrounded by two-million dollar plus houses. But surprisingly I found only one consultant on the web who specifically claims expertise and experience in mine-related emergency response plan preparation, namely Jacques Whitford . They describe their services thus:

Jacques Whitford's Contingency and Emergency Response Planning Group provides support to organizations that are developing, implementing, and testing procedures to identify and respond to emergency situations. Working with your organization, we can assist you to develop plans to respond to environmental, and health and safety emergencies that will ensure the safety of your staff, your facilities, and your community in any crisis. Our experience includes detailed and knowledgeable understanding of best practices in industrial, manufacturing and community settings such as:

  • Oil and gas facilities and pipelines
  • Offshore energy exploration
  • Mining and mine processing operations
  • Hydrocarbon processing plants
  • Nuclear and other utilities
  • Chemical processing facilities

After 9-11 there is another source of emergency. an international law firm, Hunton & Williams notes their experience in assisting state and local governments and private companies thus:
As a multiservice law firm, Hunton & Williams is helping its many clients assimilate the new homeland security regime with existing regulatory framework and liability risks. We are skilled in developing specific security-related protocols, including vulnerability assessments, legal contingency plans, privacy procedures and crisis management plans. Hunton & Williams helps clients in industry and government manage complex crisis situations, such as oil spills, blackouts, and explosions. Our group members have participated in congressionally mandated, comprehensive terrorism response exercises designed to fortify America's capability to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from large-scale terrorist attacks. Our attorneys can assist clients in negotiating the complex grant process to obtain federal emergency response and pre-disaster mitigation funding

International SOS lists their services thus:

  • Crisis Management Plans: When your organization faces a crisis, it’s critical that you know how best to respond to minimize the damage and its effects on personnel, assets and reputation. In close consultation with your team, we will provide comprehensive, actionable guidelines to help you implement a crisis management framework and user-friendly tools.
  • Emergency Response Plans: At a local or site level, developing standard operating procedures to deal with a range of emergency or crisis events is vital. With us, you can formalize contingency planning and aid crisis recovery. Our service includes detailed evacuation plans, crisis communications and tools, and 24/7 support throughout an emergency situation.
  • Crisis Management and Emergency Response Planning: Sometimes it’s difficult to know how best to translate theory into practice. Our training provides realistic scenarios for groups and individuals to practice their response to a crisis and to identify gaps in crisis management and emergency response plans

I liked the look of Mr. Paul Riopel, President of Emergency Response Management Consulting and I particularly liked his web address: www.ru-ready.com. This is how Paul Riopel describes himself: Prior to starting ERMC, from 1984 to 1990, I worked with the Province of Alberta Emergency Disaster Services and was integral in the provincial government response to actual emergencies (chemical spills/refinery explosions) and disasters (tornados/floods). My responsibilities included 55 different municipalities. My experience also includes emergency preparedness and safety work with an open pit mining operation.

Ferguson-Harbor Inc. provides full service emergency response program services. A look at their website provides a comprehensive list of incidents that may give rise to an emergency situation anywhere including a mine site.

If I were planning for or found myself in the middle of a crisis and I needed to communicate. I would choose to go to this company—and I stress that this ad hoc decision is prompted only by a bit of browsing around their site. I refer to Winner’s Circle Communications . I particularly like and hence recommend a look at their EXPERT TIPS.


The best set of case histories in emergency response assessment (none directly related to mining) that I came across is at the AMEC site.
Trust in AMEC’s capabilities and experience resulted in our selection as the only company to assist with the recovery operations at both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

TECKCOMINCO describes the emergency response plan for transporting materials from its Pend Oreille Mine near Metaline Falls WA to Canada thus: An emergency response plan was developed to ensure an effective response in the event of an off-site spill by the concentrate transportation contractor along the 10-mile stretch of highway from the mine to the Canadian border. Emergency response in the event of a concentrate spill within Canada is handled by Trail Operations. If a spill were to occur within the U.S., POM has an agreement with an authorized hazardous response contractor to respond to the event. POM has its own First Response Group that will respond immediately to any spill in the US.

The International Council on Mining and Metals describes the Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies and the Local Level (APELL) process for mining. Case Histories of the application of the APELL process are described. See also Mineral Resource Forum (UNEP).


About 750 underground coal mines and 220 underground metal/nonmetal mines operate in the United States with a total workforce of 50,200 underground miners. Fires are still a major concern for those who work underground. During 1991-2000, 76 underground coal mine fires and 61 underground metal/nonmetal mine fires were reported to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Currently, there are 234 company- and State-operated rescue teams available to respond to an emergency, such as a fire or explosion, at these mines. A goal of PRLs emergency response and rescue research program is to enhance the safety and effectiveness of emergency responders in evacuating miners by developing realistic training simulations and improving technology for rescue, exploration, recovery, firefighting, and evacuation.

The Mine Emergency Response Interactive Training Stimulation (MERITS) is a tool for preparing command center leaders for controlling mine emergencies. In the past year, the simulation has been made available to the mining industry and has generated interest from government officials, mining company representatives, and schools. Train-the-trainer sessions are being held in the Eastern and Western United States to help trainers use the software. The simulation is set at an underground bituminous coal mine, but trainees from anthracite coal and underground stone have participated in the sessions and believed that they were helpful. MERITS is available on CD or for downloading from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


The Illinois Department of Natural Resources describes these state supported services for mine emergencies:
  • Surface Rescue Team: The Surface Rescue Team is trained to extract an incapacitated individual from an elevated platform on a large coal shovel or dragline. Either before or after the extraction, the team provides emergency medical attention.
  • Emergency Search Team: The Emergency Search Team (EST) is primarily used to locate survivors trapped in underground rescue situations. Each is trained in the use of seismic equipment, which is used to locate victims trapped underground. The team also is used for cave and cavern rescues.
  • Underground Mine Rescue Team: The Underground Mine Rescue Team is equipped and trained to respond to underground coal mine emergencies. Using the latest in equipment and technology to search and locate trapped miners, team members wear self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs) which enables the team to work in either an oxygen deficient or a noxious gas atmosphere. The rescue teams are involved in rescue and recovery operations that range from fighting and/or sealing underground mine fires to rescuing spelunkers in the caves of Southern Illinois.

Saskatchewan Practice

The Saskatchewan Mine Emergency Response Program – Mine Rescue Manual is available at http://www.worksafesask.ca/topics/industry_issues/mining.html. Also on this site is a link to Mining and Quarrying which includes a Chapter on Emergency preparedness where they list these elements of a mine emergency preparedness management system:
  • Organizational intent and commitment -- corporate policy, management commitment and leadership.
  • Risk management -- identification, assessment and control of hazards and risks.
  • Definition of measures to manage an unplanned event, incident or emergency.
  • Definition of emergency organization -- strategies, structure, staffing, skills, systems and procedures.
  • Provision of facilities, equipment, supplies and materials.
  • Training of personnel in the identification, containment and notification of incidents and their roles in the mobilization, deployment and post-incident activities.,
  • Evaluation and enhancement of the overall system through regular auditing procedures and trials.
  • Periodic risk and capability reassessment.

Critique and evaluation of the response in the event of an emergency, coupled with necessary system enhancement.

Reporting Environmental Incidents

Certain types of emergencies that occur at mines must be reported to the authorities. For example, in Pennsylvania as described at the Department of Environmental Protection which you have to report to describes it activities thus;

While the major focus of the program is response to spills to land or water, DEP also has significant involvement with air pollution incidents (either from a fire or industrial-transportation-related release) and leaking underground storage tanks. The program also gets involved in a limited number of incidents involving public water supply shortages or contamination, mining related discharges, oil and gas production related discharges, abandoned explosives, and food or waterborne illness outbreaks. The program does receive notifications for and coordinates with other DEP emergency response functions such as the Deep Mine Safety Rescue Teams and the Dam Safety Program.

Analysis – Fault Trees

Lightening hit the pump station. A pipe in the water treatment plant independently sprung a leak. Water potentially affected by perchlorate entered the domestic water supply. It was late Friday and nobody could communicate with anybody else.
By Thursday on the next week at a client’s behest, the following books were on my desk and we were compiling fault trees to evaluate system performance and decide what to fix to avoid a future emergency:
  • McDermott, R.E., Mikulak, R.J., and Beauregard, M.R. “The Basic of FMEA” Productivity, Inc.
    Tel: 800-394-6868.
  • Stamatis, D.H. “Failure Mode and Effect Analysis: FMEA from Theory to Execution” ASQ Quality Press, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. www.asq.org
  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission “Fault Tree Handbook” NUREG-0492 NTIS Springfield, VA 22161.
I had never before compiled a fault tree, but after a visit to the plant where the pipe broke, and long discussions with the operators, I was able (with a very intelligent colleague) to formulate detailed fault trees that are now the basis of an extensive system overhaul.

Two websites that come up from a Yahoo keyword search for Fault Tree Mining:
Both appear to be comprehensive sources of products and services that anybody faced with compiling a fault tree may consult. An interesting site I found where the consultants state they provide fault tree analysis services to the mining industry across Africa is: http://www.democritus.co.za. Three sites where you can get the software and the means to draw fault trees are:

The cynic’s view of fault trees is that they are just another way of graphing the obvious. This may be true on superficial observation, but in my most limited experience, I was delighted by the results that accrued from the simple application of the rules and protocols. It is like dancing: the simplest steps soon take on a life of their own and a new vision of reality beckons.


I know of no software specifically tailored to emergency response or crisis management. However the software available from GoldSim Technology Group –see www.goldsim.com and specifically their modules for engineered systems modeling including risk and failure analysis, reliability and maintainability analysis, systems engineering, vulnerability analysis, logistics, and materials management may assist you in deciding when, how, and if an emergency or crisis may arise, be avoided, or mitigated.

Even if you do not intend to undertake a crisis management evaluation of your operations, I urge you to read their case histories including for example this one:
A GoldSim model was constructed to simulate the performance of a mine's crusher system. Each of the main components was represented using reliability elements, with their specific failure modes defined as Weibull distributions. Operating rules for the different components were represented in the model, and a number of Monte Carlo realizations were carried out to study the dynamics of the system. In each realization failures of the components were randomly simulated, along with repairs, and the overall impacts on the throughout of the crusher complex were simulated.

Just For Fun

T-Shirts bearing the logo of the United States Mine Rescue Association are available for purchase at http://www.usmra.com.
Totally unrelated to mining emergencies, but instructive and provoking, is the site www.incident.com/blog/ Starting with a quote from Albert Einstein “For every problem there is a solution which is simple, obvious, and wrong” we proceed to a bit of philosophy: “Emergency managers spend a lot of time thinking about worst case scenarios (WCSs) which are dramatic--they have a powerful and almost sensual attraction that helps motivate folks to get involved. The problem is that the worst case isn’t always the worst case—sometimes WCSs create an artificial sense of simplicity. In a WCS the nature and severity of the threat is clear-cut and everyone is pretty much on the same page. Alas, the hardest part about real-world disasters is that not everyone always perceives the situation in the same way at the same time. Many of the disconnects and missteps in any large operation can be traced to differences… sometimes subtle, sometimes glaring… in how different agencies and individuals perceive the severity and nature of what’s happening. Thus frequently it’s the less-than-worst-case that’s actually the most challenging to manage.”

Who, for example, would have had the courage to identify total loss of the reduction works (processing plant) into a sinkhole as a possible emergency. But this happened in South Africa when I was a boy and I still recall the horror of the mining community to the big hole that developed in karst county and the disappearance of a huge metal building, its plant, and operators.

www.abc.net describes this event:
Imagine traveling 300 meters underground only to be greeted by screaming people, fire and smoke. That's exactly what faced some brave locals recently.

On mine sites, workers can volunteer to be members of an elite mines rescue and emergency response team. Training for an emergency can be tedious. Yet it is imperative that everyone understands the implications, and helping in that is the annual Goldfields underground mines rescue competition, which is now into its 102nd year and was held recently at the Saint Ives gold mine in Kambalda.

"The competition is set up to give underground miners who volunteer their time to join the emergency response team, as realistic training as possible, without actually being involved in a real situation," mines rescue committee chairman Brad Brierley outlines.

14 teams from right across Western Australia attended the 2 day event, tackling a variety of ‘real life’ scenarios testing each team’s first aid skills, roping and search and rescue techniques, team work, fire fighting ability and general demeanour underground in a high pressure situation.

"We've got 3 patients. There has been a seismic event underground. The teams need to deal with patients as soon as possible and take them out of the endangered area."

With hair and make-up complete, the scenario looked realistic with "a male patient ‘speared by a split set’, a young lady has a broken collar bone and lacerations. And a 60-year-old lady has a broken pelvis, a large laceration to her head. So, she’s a spinal," Carmen says.

One of the ‘victims’ Belinda, who had flown in from a mine site in Newman to act as casualty during the competition seemed to extend her vocal chords louder than most of the other ‘patients’.

In a search and rescue exercise, three people had gone ‘missing’ in an underground shaft whilst working, so a rookie emergency response team had been sent it to go and find them. But, things soon turned pear-shaped when the rookie team then gets 'lost', having to call in the senior and ‘more experienced’ team to rescue the lost miners and the rookie emergency response team.

"The smoke is there to make it realistic for the team, as if they were in a fire situation. The idea of the committee is to give teams as much training as they can," explains chairman Brad Brierley.

“We use a peanut oil substance to replicate the smoke”.


Here is a brief list of typical mine facilities, emergency causative events, facility responses, and possible emergency responses. I have not filled in all columns as many are repetitive or specific to particular operations. No doubt each mine will have its own list, events, failure modes, and preferred responses. Regardless of what I list below, do not forget to include in your emergency response plan a list of contact persons, authorities to notify, procedures for dealing with the public and press, emergency gathering points and head count procedures, alternative operating procedures, the location of materials to deal with emergencies, and the people, methods, and schedule for repair of broken, destroyed and/or disrupted facilities. Please note this list is provided for illustration only. It is not comprehensive or even adequate for real life use.

Mine Facility Causative Event Response / Failure Emergency Response
Earthquake Disrupted Access
(embankment failure, rock falls, bridge collapse, etc.)
Repair Failure
Reroute Traffic
Floods Disrupted Access
Wash Outs
Repair Failure
Reroute Traffic
Construct New
Flood Control Facilities
Disrupted Access
Dangerous Passage
Restore Access
Accost Passage Impeders
Disrupted Access
(embankment failure, rock falls, bridge collapse, etc.)
Repair Failure
Reroute Traffic
Water Supply
Earthquakes Broken Pipe
Failed Support Systems
Interrupted Water Supply
Repair Breaks and Failures
Provide Alternative Water Supplies
Floods Ditto above Ditto above
Sabotage Contaminated Supplies Monitor Water Quality
Provide Alternative Supplies
Broken Pipe
Failed Support Systems
Interrupted Water Supply
Repair Breaks and Failures
Provide Alternative Water Supplies
Surface Water
Performance Failure
Ditto above Ditto above
Earthquake Slope Failure Close Area
Stop Facility Use
Repair Failure
Wash Out
Slope Failure/Flow
Close Area
Stop Facility Use
Clean Affected Area
Sabotage Pipe Destruction
Tailings Spills
Repair Pipe
Clean Area
Slope Instability
Pipeline Breaks
Tailings Spills
Close Area
Stop Facility Use
Repair Failure
Waste Rock
Performance Failure
Ditto Tailings
Ditto Tailings Facility
Heap Leach
Performance Failure
Ditto Tailings
Ditto Tailings Facility
Power Lines      
Air Strip      
Waste Water
Mine Buildings      
Process Plant
- Chemicals      
- Structure      
- Power      
Open Pit
- Access      
- Slopes      
- Equipment      
- Power      
Underground Mine
- Access Portal      
- Shaft      
- Workings      
- Ventilation        

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