The mining industry has very specific cleaning challenges, especially below ground. Any equipment used within the mine itself must play a role in the critical path of achieving occupational health and safety.
The good news for the industry is that there’s a new generation of technology which is fit for purpose. Gavin Herold, General Manager of Africa and the Middle East for Nilfisk, one of the world’s leading suppliers of cleaning equipment, says that “when used properly, this technology can improve cleanliness and safety while lifting productivity and reducing costs”.
Key improvements in recent times have been increased power in vacuums and water sprays, greater mobility, more customisable options, improved ergonomics, reduced consumables’ usage and far easier maintenance.
The areas that need focus here include underground workshops, wash bays and machinery. There are very strict regulations on the type of equipment that can be used because of fumes so there’s now a bespoke range of electrically powered equipment which can deal with big or small spaces. An example is the Electra stationary pressure washer unit which has a number of safety features including a thermostatically-controlled overheating safety device and a low water cut out feature. These units can be tailor made and fitted with up to 3 hoses.
Powerful autoscrubbers and sweepers with high brush pressure are also available for underground use in workshops and in areas where there’s serious potential for slipping on a collection of dust. This is particularly relevant on the concrete platforms between levels.
Here the priority is any area where big machines are loading onto dump trucks. Highly robust and mobile hot water machines like the Novastar are available for this cleaning task.
In some open cast mine workshops there are specialised sections to remove and clean engines, in which case the MH 5M or the Electra stationary unit will do the job depending on the size of machinery to be cleaned. Sweepers and autoscrubbers can be deployed as well.
At the upper level there are two specialised spaces.
Mines usually have their own labs for testing samples/batches. In this type of environment hazardous dust, spillages or very fine debris can cause issues. An industrial type vacuum cleaner such as the S2, S3, T40 or 3907 is required. They can run constantly and are suitable for fine debris.
Mine workshops are sites of oil spillages and sizable debris which can be cleaned using automatic scrubber dryers. The size of the machine depends on the area to be cleaned but there is a range from an SC530 to a SC1500. Sweepers such as the BK900 can be used or for bigger areas/warehouses the SR1601 or the SW8000.
Herold believes than an investment in new cleaning technology will reap a swift return. “This equipment works faster, safer and more economically and, as a result, it lifts productivity and improves the workplace environment.