Underground mining is a dangerous profession, necessitating complex rescue operations with specialised machinery. In its effort to achieve “zero harm,” South African coal mining houses have jointly funded the purchase of new rescue drilling equipment amounting to R65 675 million.

The Collieries Committee agreed to provide the funds needed for the purchase of the Schramm T130XD drill and the Schramm T685WS drill with ancillary equipment, replacing the current T5 rescue drill and T4 pilot drill respectively, which were becoming increasingly outdated, unreliable and difficult to source parts for.

The Shramm equipment was selected by a task team, represented by the mining houses, the Chamber of Mines, Mines Rescue Services and Colliery Training College, due to its excellent safety standards, ease of transportation by road without special permits and escort vehicles and has been undergoing testing at Goedehoop Colliery since 15 October 2015.

“We continue to pursue ideal of zero harm relentlessly and view the fatalities in the industry this year as a major setback,” said David Msiza, DMR chief inspector of mines, at the launch event at Goedehoop on 18 February. “Continuous collaboration is the only way to achieve zero harm.”

The Collieries Committee reflects this ideal and the cost of the drill has been borne by the Chamber’s coal producing members who operate underground collieries, including:: Anglo American, Exxaro Resources, Shanduka, Total, Delmas Coal, Xstrata Coal, Kangra Coal, BHP Billiton, Coal of Africa, Sasol and SCI. Contributions were determined by the number of persons employed in the underground operations, and included funds for the manufacture of a new rescue winder and rescue capsule with a trailer and storage facility.