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$812,265 awarded for research in underground coal mining in the Newcastle area

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The Federal Minister for Resources, Senator Peter Cook, today announced two grants totalling $812,265 under the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Program for research in underground coal mining in the Newcastle area.

The first project, supervised by Dr PH Scaife, BHP Central Research Laboratories, aims to develop a monitoring system, based on optical fibres, as a safe, reliable and accurate method for monitoring the levels of methane, carbon monoxide

and carbon dioxide at a number of points around an underground coal mine. The project will also seek to upgrade the system,. to allow the optical' fibres to measure other factors such as temperature, pressure and air flow ’which are important for the proper control of mining operations, and to enable it to be used as a data link to and from the surface.

The second project, supervised by Mr PF Hewlett, Coal and Allied Operations Pty Ltd, will investigate the use of airbags as stopping^ or barriers used to modify ventilation conditions in mines, particularly under emergency situations such as a mine fire or explosion. Traditionally designed stoppings are manually set and the process involved can be dangerous. On the other hand airbags have the potential for safer remote setting

and for suppressing a fire by designed rupture under certain conditions through the release of a fire suppressant enclosed in the airbag.

These two projects are being funded as part of a package of 38 projects totalling some $11.05 million, all designed to improve the competitiveness and safety of Australia’s coal industry.

Further information: Ken Lyall (062) 72 4881 Gary Quinlan (062) 72 7141