New research is underway to help miners stay cooler while working at extreme depths underground. Such research could eventually benefit workers at the Kidd Mine in Timmins, which is the deepest base metal mine in the world.
Research scientist Dr. Stephen Cheung of Brock University said the ultimate goal is to find ways to make miners feel cooler and more comfortable and therefore be able to contribute more to more production. “As you know the deeper you go, the hotter the mines are and the greater the energy costs to ventilate those mines so that the miners can actually be working underground,” said Cheung.
“The idea here really is rather than cooling the entire chamber, it is most likely much more cost effective and efficient to be cooling the individual miners. So that’s kind of the genesis or the idea for the whole project,” he added.
Cheung said Brock University has partnered with Jannatec Technologies, a Sudbury company, to create a new “smart” vest designed to protect miners from heat stress and other discomforts. Cheung said he would be working with Jannatec senior research scientist Steffon Luoma of Sudbury.
Cheung, who is also Canada Research Chair is Environmental Ergonomics, said the research is just beginning. “We have just received a grant for this from the Ontario Centres of Excellence so it is kind of at the very initial stages of collaboration between Jannatec Technologies and ourselves. So we are just getting started and the project is over two to three years,” he said.
Cheung said the work underground can be “hot, humid and intense” and other types of cooling vests and work-wear have already been developed for miners. What would make the smart vest different he said is the use of sensors embedded in the vest that would adjust the cooling procedure for each person.
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