June 25, 2022

Prevent Mining Disasters with Carbon Fiber

Mining disasters happen all too often, all over the world. HJ3's CarbonSeal carbon fiber gives strength you need to prevent mine disasters and save lives!

Enhancing Mining Safety: Strengthening Structures for a Safer Tomorrow

Mining ranks among the most perilous of professions. Each year, mining accidents lead to tragic fatalities, often stemming from collapses, explosions, or fires. Encouragingly, there has been a substantial reduction in mining accidents and associated deaths over the past four decades, and this positive trend extends to more than a century. However, it is important to recognize that mining operations remain inherently dangerous.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reports that in 1907, the United States experienced the "deadliest year in U.S. coal mining history," resulting in approximately 3,242 fatalities. Among these, a catastrophic mine explosion near Monongah, West Virginia, took the lives of 361 people. While significant improvements in mining health and safety regulations have been implemented since the 1970s, recent events, such as the devastating mining explosion in Turkey, underscore the persistent hazards miners face.

A "mining disaster" is defined as an incident causing the loss of five or more lives. In the United States, since 1976, fewer than 20 mining disasters have occurred, a stark contrast to the 526 disasters that transpired between 1901 and 1950. Data from MSHA and other government bodies illustrate a substantial decline in mining accidents and fatalities in the United States, but the situation remains concerning in other parts of the world. China, for instance, continues to witness a high number of mining fatalities, with over a thousand reported last year, despite recent safety improvements. Furthermore, China holds the unfortunate record for the world's deadliest mining disaster, dating back to April 1942 when 1,549 miners lost their lives. Recent mining accidents are also prevalent, including the 2010 mining disaster in Chile, where 33 miners were trapped underground for two weeks, with thankfully 31 of them surviving. Only two weeks ago, five miners perished in a mine collapse in Bosnia, and in August, another 25 lives were claimed in a rebel-held mine in the Central African Republic town of Bombari. Numerous other mining accidents have occurred in the past decade, including several this year.

The key question arises: Can anything be done to enhance the safety of mines worldwide? The answer is an emphatic yes. At HJ3, we have played a crucial role in improving the structural integrity of numerous mines in the Southwestern United States by reinforcing their concrete and steel structures. Many of the modern mine collapses are attributed to vibrations stemming from heavy equipment usage, and reinforcing the support systems can significantly mitigate the risk of structural failure due to these vibrations. Given that many mines are over a century old, their concrete beams and columns have corroded due to prolonged exposure to vibrations, moisture, sulfuric acid, and the mines' electro-winning processes.

Some of the mines that HJ3 has strengthened were so deteriorated that they faced the risk of being shut down by MSHA. Through the application of CarbonSeal™'s glass composite and carbon fiber fabrics, these mines have seen a remarkable resurgence, with columns and beams now providing more robust support than they have in the past century. Our composite systems are ten times stronger than steel, highly resistant to chemicals, and ideal for reinforcing structures subjected to harsh mining conditions. Additionally, the lightweight, flexible fabric form of these systems is especially advantageous for narrow or hard-to-access spaces.

If you are aware of a mine in need of structural reinforcement, we invite you to join HJ3 in our mission to safeguard lives and resources. For further information, please reach out to us at info@hj3.com.

A corroded column (left) is restored with HJ3's CarbonSeal system (right).


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