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Heating is used across many aspects of the mining industry in various forms, from general space heating to large industrial process heating, heating is needed throughout the industry from underground mining all the way to the workers accommodation and vehicles.

Hazardous areas (areas in which an explosive atmosphere is present) such as those in underground mines (where flammable gases or dust may be present in the air) require a higher level of safety to be adhered to on all electrical installations to prevent injuries, property damage or even deaths as the result of explosions. Electric heating units can be supplied certified to ‘explosionproof’ or ‘flameproof’ standards to ensure there is no risk of the unit igniting the atmosphere and causing an explosion.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has developed a certification scheme to assist in regulating the safety standards of electrical equipment in hazardous areas. This scheme is called the IECEx Scheme and is used in a number of countries throughout the world, including Australia.

According to the IEC, the objective of the IECEx system is to facilitate international trade in equipment and services for use in explosive atmospheres, while maintaining the required level of safety.

Inline process heaters are often used in the mining industry in stripping plants to assist with the elution process. During this process the carbon is stripped from the solution through heat in order to separate out the mineral. These heaters are extremely versatile in that they can be designed for use with almost any solution and a variety of processes. The eluate will run through the system with the heat causing the ingredients to separate.

Drum heating solutions are also very popular in the mining industry due to the large amount of grease or lubricants needed to maintain the vast amounts of equipment and machinery used throughout the mines. The variety of drum heaters available on the market makes it possible to efficiently heat the liquids with minimal effort.

The drum and its contents can be heated in a number of ways depending on the most effective solution for the required process. For instance, an insulated heater jacket provides a portable way to keep the entire drum and its contents heated with minimal space wherever the drum is located. Alternatively, if multiple drums needed to be heated, a large industrial drum oven or heating room can be made to accommodate them, ensuring even heat throughout. Other products, such as wrap-around band heaters or drum immersion heaters, are also available for drum heating where it might be more effective to directly heat the solution.

In colder climates, heating in mines is even more important to ensure operations can continue without interruption. For example, in overseas countries where mines are located in particularly harsh winter climates, something as simple as hydraulic fluid needs to be heated in order to keep things like truck ladders and stairs working. The heating of greases and lubricants becomes particularly imperative in these sorts of climates to maintain the fl ow of liquids through machinery and vehicles. Then, of course, there are things as simple as air heaters and space heaters to ensure the comfort of workers in both vehicles and site buildings. Cabin heaters and hot air blower heaters can provide easy solutions to cold work areas.

By Peta Jardine www.thermalelectric.com.au

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