Mining at Night: The Risks and Rewards
It’s not uncommon for open-pit mines to run 24/7. To those in the know, the advantages of doing so are obvious. However, as you can imagine, it also comes with some risks that aren’t typically present in other forms of mining.
Here at Scribante, one of our top priorities is to raise awareness about proper mine safety. So, let’s take a look at the risks and rewards of mining at night.
Running an Open-Pit Mine
Open-pit mines run 24/7 to ensure the highest levels of productivity. While this might make sense for an underground mine, where natural light is irrelevant, open-pit mines have other considerations.
It’s typical for miners to work in shifts – three 8-hour shifts in a 24-hour period are fairly standard across the industry. As such, one or two shifts will involve mining at night.
The Risks of Mining at Night
Running a 24/7 mining operation means considering night time safety. An obvious risk factor is the level of lighting. Mining vehicles come with headlights, but these only provide so much light. When driving on mine roads or near excavation sites, it might not be enough.
Also, changes in light levels mean miners’ eyes must constantly adjust. It can lead to delays in reaction times, which is less than ideal when mining at night. There are various preventative measures miners can take to reduce the level of risk.
One solution is to use floodlights to improve visibility. However, they must be positioned so as not to blind miners. Similarly, miners must be trained in night time driving, such as using berms and other features to direct vehicles if visibility is poor.
Finally, there’s the need for PPE. When mining at night, the most obvious item is visibility gear, including reflective tape. Along with this, headlamps and flashlights should be standard, so all miners have at least one portable light source on them at all times.
The Rewards of Mining at Night
The rewards of running a 24/7 mine should be quite obvious. The biggest reward is increased productivity, as there is a constant stream of ore being processed. If a mine were to only run for 8 or 12 hours a day, this is still at best a 50% loss in productivity.
It also means no lost time setting mining equipment up every day. While setting equipment up can be as simple as turning it on, it still means not waiting for everything to get going again.
24/7 Mining in South Africa
Mining at night requires planning, particularly from a safety perspective. However, the rewards greatly outweigh the risks once a mine has the right equipment and training in place.
If you plan to run a 24/7 mine in South Africa and need guidance on health and safety processes, get in touch with Scribante. We can advise you on what to implement and how regarding your proposed open-pit mine. Scribante stays up to date with the latest legal developments, so we can ensure you remain compliant.