Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

Martin Olsen, Belt Road Segregation and Escapeways - Compliance or Risk Management?, 14th Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong, The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy & Mine Managers Association of Australia, 2014,


Segregation of conveyor roadways is a ventilation practice that is being increasingly applied in Australia. It is largely driven by the legislated requirements in Queensland pertaining to separation of escape ways from the mine. This legal requirement was based on a recommendation from the Moura No. 2 Wardens Inquiry into the mine disaster that claimed 11 lives. The report recommended “the introduction of a requirement for all underground mines to have one intake airway that is completely segregated from other parallel intake airways so as to provide two separate means of egress from the mine via an intake airway”. This recommendation seeks to assist mineworkers to escape from a mine after a fire by providing them with an airway that is free from smoke or contaminants. The concept of an airway being “completely segregated” is an ideal that is challenging to implement in practice when considering the effect of leakage. The practice of belt segregation is concerned with the potential for fires in the belt roadway although there are numerous other potential fire sources in underground coal mines. A review of segregation practices has been conducted applying ventilation engineering principles. Four different scenarios have been analysed with regard to the effectiveness of the segregation stoppings in preventing potential fire contaminants migrating to other parts of the mine. The results show that in some cases the benefits of segregation to a person evacuating a mine in the event of a fire range from beneficial to detrimental. This is influenced by many factors including the location of that individual in that particular mine. There is room for improvement in the design and implementation of escape ways in underground coal mines. Escape ways need to be planned and designated with regard to the potential sources of fire, pressure differentials between escape ways and the operational practicalities of maintaining the pressure differential between them.