Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Cliff, D and Grieves, J, Improving emergency management in underground coal mines, in Aziz, N (ed), 10th Underground Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2010, 281-287.


The findings of ACARP funded research project C17008 - Optimising the collection of information for effective use in the event of an emergency at an underground coal mine is reported. The aim of this ACARP funded research project was to identify ways of optimising the information collection and reporting processes used in emergencies in underground coal mines to ensure rapid and effective response, minimising the risk to life. This was to be achieved through evaluating the current emergency management systems at mines, identifying good practice and also areas that needed improvement. There were three areas of focus for the project: the control room, senior mine official on site and the incident management area. The control room in particular is a key area where accurate information is required during an incident especially in the early stages until a senior mine official can take charge. The control room remains the first point of contact during an incident for most personnel. Speedy evacuation and in seam response is predicated upon knowing what is happening and where everyone is located. A number of mines in NSW and Queensland were visited and their emergency management systems were analysed. In Queensland this was undertaken as part of the involvement in the level one emergency response exercises (LOERS).

A series of twenty recommendations for further action have been compiled and are listed in the final report submitted to ACARP. The main findings of this project were:

  • The emergency management system (EMS) often seemed to be no more than a paper document that had not been properly tested.
  • Most mines had not formally identified what information would be necessary in an emergency particularly what would be required to ensure rapid re-entry for rescue purposes.
  • There is an urgent need to define the minimum information requirements.
  • There is a need to define an industry wide competency for control room operators (CRO).
  • Mines need to significantly increase the training carried out in emergency preparedness and response especially in the management of incidents.