Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Brady, D, The Role of Gas Monitoring in the Prevention and Treatment of Mine Fires in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 2008: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2008, 202-208.


Queensland’s underground coal industry, as a whole, has arguably the best gas monitoring systems in the world. Each mine utilises real time, tube bundle and onsite ultra fast gas chromatograph systems. Queensland’s mining legislation has specific requirements for mine gas monitoring but there is no requirement for all three techniques. Industry has however identified the need for all three and adopted this as a standard, resulting in over sixty thousand gas results collected each day. Automated monitoring systems are programmed to alarm for gas concentrations, gas ratios and explosibility. These alarms are then used to initiate predetermined actions to take control of the situation and prevent the compromise of safety to workers and the loss of resources. Dedicated software packages have been developed to assist in the interpretation of the large volume of results generated. The real time systems are used for real time warning, essential for incidents such as belt fires. Tube bundle systems suit long term trending used for identification of the onset of spontaneous combustion or for the determination of explosibility during the routine sealing of worked areas. Gas chromatograph analysis is used to provide a complete analysis and provides results for hydrogen and ethylene, key gases used in the assessment of spontaneous combustion. It is also crucial during significant spontaneous combustion events and coal fires to use gas chromatography to determine the explosibility status of the underground atmosphere otherwise the severity of the situation is likely to be under estimated. This paper outlines the need for all three techniques for assessing the underground status and outlines advantages and disadvantages of each.