Some underground mines will allow its miners to provide their own cap lamps, other miners will want the best tools that they can find for their 12 hour shifts. Maybe you’re a small prospector looking at equipment for underground development? Whatever category you fall in to have a look at the following options for cap lamps available right here in Australia.
Types of cap lamps
CORDED CAP LAMPS:
Camp lamps can be provided by various suppliers and much like any item we purchase it all comes down to personal preference. There are two main types of cap lamps, the traditional being the corded system, where the miner has a battery pack on their belt with a wire to the lamp on their helmet. This system has been used for many years and allows for extended battery life and strong light delivery across multiple shifts. The second advantage is that in the case of a serious knock to the helmet or it falling of your head, the miner can use the cord attached to their helmet to retrieve not only their lamps but also their helmet.
The only real drawback of this system is that the cord can become annoying when working a shift, it can become tangled in many other bits on the belt, or snagged on some of the many obstacles when working in an underground mining environment.
PERSONNEL TRACKING CORDED CAP LAMP:
Personnel tracking cap lamps use a system that is based on the above Corded system, however they utilise multiple other functions for use in the underground environment. The battery pack not only provides power to the cap lamp it also allows the mine control office to track where miners are within the mine.
This utilises a wireless network of nodes that allow those on the surface to track where both personnel & mobile plant are located. This can be a very useful feature when there is an underground emergency, as miners can be approximately grouped by mine area by this system. The battery pack can also work to page information to team members if important or emergency events occur during a shift. This increased connectivity, location tracking and message relay only works with the correct infrastructure system in place but adds serious value to those controlling works within a busy mine.
The real key with this type of system becomes correct maintenance of the integrated safety systems and wireless networks they rely on underground. Unfortunately due to the complex nature of these systems, I was unable to source any quotations for reference in the price guide below. This is due to the larger scale (50+ cap lamps, charging banks and underground wireless networks) offered by manufactures.
NEWTRAX BRANDO CAP LAMPS deliver this unique product currently and a specification sheet can here found here.
CORDLESS CAP LAMPS:
The improved battery technology found across electrical devices has also played a part in allowing cap lamps to become “wireless”. The improved charge and power in these batteries allows underground workers to have a single torch unit without a belt battery pack. This gets rid of the requirement for the a wire, which some find gets in the way of their work and can often become caught on things in a busy underground mine.
It is critical to check with your OH&S (Health & Safety Department) on your particular site before purchasing any alternative cap lamps to those provided by your employer.Disclaimer by UG Mining Tech
Current Cap Lamp Models and Pricing
KOEHLER : TK DISTRIBUTORS – NSW, Australia
$440 ex GST per cap lamp
$223 ex GST per single bay charger
Multi Bay Chargers available on request
Koehler have both wired and wireless cap lamps available exclusively in Australia through TK Distributors in Sydney, NSW. They are produced in the USA and are business that have a wide product range of rugged lighting units for many emergency response applications.
The unit seen above is the Cordless Wheat, which has a run time of approx. 12-14 hours from a single 6 hour charge.
Full details of the unit can be found on the KOEHLER website here.
ALL IN ONE : RFG SALES AND SPARES LTD – Tasmania, Australia
ST-2600A RFG All-in-One Caplamp $130.00 + GST
ST-TC03 240V Key Charger, 3 Pin $44.00 + GST
ST-CR10U Charger Rack 10 Piece-240V $825.00 + GST
RFG supply a wide range of specialised tools and parts to the underground mining industry. This system is cordless and would be a good low cost entry point for occasional mining contractors or those looking to source their own cordless cap lamp.
The primary light source will give approx. 12 hours of light with around 30 hours at the lower level secondary lighting, if caught short down the hole!
Full details of the unit can be found on the RFG website here.
SUMMARY OF AVAILABLE CAP LAMPS
Whether you are a single sole trader airleg miner or a large mining business exploring options for integrated safety and cap lamp systems, I hope this post has been of use. I have learnt about several new suppliers myself, some of whom have extensive underground specific product ranges to follow up on in the future.
The use of cap lamps isnt going to change too much over time but it is good to see suppliers jamming more technology into the battery units, as seen in the Newtrax system outlined above. The real key then becomes correct maintenance of the integrated safety systems and wireless networks they rely on underground.
There are multiple different cap lamp styles and manufactures on the market, and his article covers those available for purchase currently in Australia by official distributors. Two major manufactures of cap lamps did not respond to my inquiries for pricing. If they come to the party this post will be updated. There are several other offerings available from Ebay, which I have not covered as I their quality is not backed by a business in country.
All pricing in of November 2020 and in AUD$.