Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

Michael Salu and Verne Mutton, The case for developing an Australian technical specification for structural design of ventilation control devices, in Naj Aziz and Bob Kininmonth (eds.), Proceedings of the 17th Coal Operators' Conference, Mining Engineering, University of Wollongong, 8-10 February 2017, 411-425.


Ventilation management and control plays an essential part in underground coal mining. Failure of the ventilation system or failure of underground seals can lead to multiple fatalities and closure of a mine. Examples include: Moura No.2 (Qld, 1994); Sago (USA, 2006) and Pike River (NZ, 2010). Following the Moura No.2 disaster, the Qld Dept. of Mines put new regulations in place specifying pressure ratings for various classes of Ventilation Control Devices (VCDs). They also initially specified that only VCD’s that had been subject to “full scale testing” would be accepted for use in Qld mines. No guidance was provided on how the full scale test results were to be applied to the design of VCDs in the field. It is considered that an Australian Standard for VCDs should be developed to address commonly observed issues including:  Factors of safety  Design methodologies and designer qualifications  Material properties, testing and verification  Dual ratings for overpressure and water head  Provision for inclusions such as access hatches, doors and pipes. Australian Standards are extensively researched, peer reviewed and subject to public comment. The entire process typically can take from two to four years. An Australian Technical Specification is a one-tier lower document than an Australian Standard, produced by an expert committee on the basis of consensus. Although peer reviewed, it is not subject to public comment and could be completed within 12 months. It is suggested in light of the critical importance of VCDs and the lack of any Governmental or Regulatory technical progress since 2001, that the Coal Mining Industry should pro-actively assemble an expert committee and prepare a business case to Standards Australia for development of an Australian Technical Specification for VCDs with a target completion date of June 2018.