Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

Johannes Jacobus Labuschagne du Plessis and Helmut Späth, Active Barrier Performance Preventing Methane Explosion Propagation, 14th Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong, The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy & Mine Managers Association of Australia, 2014, 350-359.


Over the past century, the coal mining industry experienced a large number of explosions leading to a considerable loss of life. Research was directed at preventing the accumulation of methane through good ventilation practice, eliminating frictional sparking by the use of water, minimising dust generation and dispersal, and using stone dust to inert coal dust to prevent it from participating in mine explosions. The final line of defence, though, is the use of barriers to prevent a coal dust explosion from propagating. However, the design of passive explosion barrier systems has remained unchanged for many years. The traditional stone dust and water barriers were originally designed and developed as much as 50 years ago. In the 1990s the CSIR of South Africa developed a new type of stone dust explosion barrier, which has been implemented in South Africa and Australia. This barrier is considered to be better suited to modern-day mining practice. It is based on an array of specially manufactured bags holding stone dust and suspended from the mine roof. Preventing the propagation of methane or coal dust explosions through the use of active explosion-suppression systems remains one of the most underutilised explosion controls in underground coal mines. As part of the effort to develop better technologies to safeguard mines, the use of active barrier systems was investigated at Kloppersbos in South Africa. The system is designed to meet the requirements of the European Standard (EN 14591-4:2007) (European Standard, 2007), as well as the Mine Safety Standardisation in the Ministry of Coal Industry, Coal Industrial Standard (MT 694-1997) of the People’s Republic of China. From the tests conducted, it can be concluded that the HS Suppression System was successful in stopping flame propagation for a methane explosion, as well preventing methane explosions from progressing into methane and coal dust hybrid explosions when ammonium phosphate powder was used as the suppression material. The use of this barrier can provide coal mine management with an additional explosion control close to the point of ignition and may find application within longwall faces, further protecting mines against the risk of an explosion propagating.