Restarting Operations After Lockdown

Preparing for a restart of post lockdown operations; big plants and operations take time to start up and reach optimal performance. Many parts of an operation that become ‘mothballed’, even for a short period of time, run the risk of deteriorating quite quickly.  Start-up, if not properly managed can bring unnecessary breakdowns as a result of ‘mothballing’. In preparing for the start-up of mining or process plant operations one should think of the following:

1. Operations environment:

  • Ground conditions – undertake a thorough inspection of ground conditions. Has there been any fall of ground, ground unstable, or supports weakened? Systematically clear, make safe and rehabilitate any areas that are of. Some of our mining operations may be subject to seismic activities during the shutdown. What does your seismic monitoring show for this period? Such information will guide management in their approach to re-starting operations as seismic activities could have damaged shafts and large infrastructure excavations. This requires a more thorough examination before entering and starting up operations.
  • Ventilation – is the ventilation system performing to requirement?  To save on electricity operations may have throttled back on ventilation which has not only caused dangerous gas build-ups but may also have caused heat build-up.  Re-cooling the rock takes time. Consider trapped gases that may have built up in dead areas. Inspect the ventilation and cooling mechanical equipment and systems and ensure they are operating to requirements. Allow adequate time for extraction of gasses and re-cooling of rock surface before sending crews into underground work areas.
  • Electrical equipment – starting up high voltage installations may be dangerous when switching on aging electrical breakers. Where this is a concern, it is recommended that electricians should wear appropriate PPE like fire suits/heat shields in the event of an electrical circuit exploding and catching fire.
  • Excessive water ingress – have any areas started showing signs of increased water ingress or flooding? Are there ‘above normal’ levels of water within certain underground work areas? Inspect pumps and ensure that they are operating to requirements. Excess water also increases wet bulb air temperatures.

 

2. Plant and Equipment:

  • Identify any components which are aging and may be susceptible to a breakdown or malfunction during start up? i.e. pumps, ventilation fans, electrical circuits, ropes, winches winders, etc.
  • Which parts of the start-up process are most fallible? Why?
  • Where are your potential weak points in your processes? Why?
  • Have a back-up plan in case of any of the key components fail or the start-up process derails.

 

This may be an opportune time to consider doing a comprehensive shaft system health inspection! We have the expertise to assist you with many mining and process challenges that you may experience.

 

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