Summary: While a contract driller was drilling a pit pattern in an open cut coal mine, a flammable gas ignited within the drill hole. The fire propagated from the hole to the front hydraulic system and partially burnt and damaged the cab. The operator activated the automatic fire suppression system, which was ineffective because of the flammable gas burning in the hole. An emergency was initiated and two water carts extinguished the fire.
Recommendations to industry: Mine operators should review any previous industry incidents, not just site incidents associated with a piece of plant, machinery or task. This should also be considered when developing a lifecycle management plan for plant or machinery.