HardwareMobile PlantSafety

ME SAFE – The Long Hole Plug

3 Mins read

Drive utilisation is a topic which is of paramount importance when factoring in the many moving parts of the mining cycle. This effectively means that an efficient rotation of tasks is being completed, in sequence, when a mining front is being developed. Delays and or interference with this schedule can cause hefty hold ups and effect the bottom line of a mine’s output. 

Sam, Gerry and their team at ME Safe have designed a number of safety conscious tools that help deliver these efficiencies for underground operations. The centrepiece of their offering is the Long Hole Plug, which delivers both a safer working environment as well as contributing to increased production when implemented. This is through offering an engineered tool for a very specific issue that can arise when drilling out a stope – lost drill rods up the hole! 

Historically, when a drill rod has become lodged up a hole, it causes a nervous time for the driller as it could eject at any time, rattling its way down the  hole to the drive below. To remedy this hazard, there is usually a lengthy delay as the driller must retreat their rig from the unsafe mining area for remedial works to occur. The remedy could be delivered by either a jumbo rig mobilising to the area to install a “plate over” the troubling hole, or via grouting the hole.. This creates a rotation of machinery and personnel from their existing workplaces to complete a makeshift remedy to a potentially extremely dangerous hazard. 

The Long Plug as it is about to be inserted into the hole in the backs.

The Long Hole Plug (LHP) removes the guesswork and the requirement to juggle multiple machines out of the hazardous area by providing a single machine insertion engineered solution.  This not only improves the continued safety of all personnel working in that drive, it also dramatically reduces costs in both machine/operator down time and allows others working in different areas of the mine to focus on their designated tasks. 

The install is completed by the long hole rig in situ and takes approximately one minute, in a simple procedure that creates a rapid pathway to eliminating the hazard. 

The system is simple yet ingenious in its design, working as a friction anchor once lodged in the  hole. It waits dormant, in situ, for the potential dislodgement of the drill rods further up the hole. In the event that the drill rods fall the LHP transfers the vertical forces horizontally into the surrounding rock mass Therefore, ensuring that no steel or shrapnel can eject from the hole. 

A short video of the Long Hole Plug being inserted by several different long hole rigs

SUMMARY 

A product like the Long Hole Plug is a “no brainer” for any project that is utilising long hole drill rigs. It not only creates a safer workplace through its design, but it also delivers huge cost savings in the process. This is multi-faceted through reducing drill down time yet also allowing service crews and other rigs to be used for their primary function. Ensuring that drive utilisation is maintained for the task that was outlined for that shift as a result.

The Long Hole Plug is available in all bit sizes used across the industry and has received  awards from AusIMM for innovation. To date, the LHP has been implemented at over 50 underground mining projects across the globe by well-established mining companies and contractors including Northern Star, Byrnecut, BHP, Glencore & PT Freeport. 

ABOUT ME SAFE 

ME SAFE is an Australian based business utilising over 60 years of mining and construction experience. Their mission is to increase safety & efficiency in the mining industry through cost effective solutions The Long Hole Plug most recently won the 2020 Australian Mining Prospect Award for Excellence in Mine Safety & OHS.  

The business offers a range of products and services that improve safety primarily in the underground mining environment. These included cable bolt safety caps, dust suppression options and up hole retainers for self-drilling anchors which may also be of interest to the UGMT following.


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