Simtars celebrates 30 years of safety in mines

October 11, 2018 JOHN NINNESS

The Queensland Mines Department’s Safety In Mines Testings & Research Station (Simtars) has celebrated its 30th birthday today. Simtars has played an important role in improving the safety of miners across Queensland and the world.

From humble beginnings, Simtars emerged from some of Queensland’s worst mining disasters: Ipswich’s Box Flat Colliery (1972), Kianga mine explosion (1975) and Moura number 4 explosion (1986). Members of the organisation also attended the Moura No 2 Mine Disaster in 1994.

Opened in September 1988, Simtars developed, and has provided a range of vital commercial  and governmental safety and health, research, testing and training services across Qld, in the hope that mass fatalities at mine sites would be a thing of the past.

simtars redbank

Simtars Redbank Facility Image: Google Earth

Simtars is a unique Government organisation that operates a hybrid model of commercial and Government services which (at times) have proved challenging for the organisation and its’ staff. The balancing of commercial activities (fee for service) vs Government vs industry outcomes has shaped the organisation over the years. Despite its’ ongoing challenges, the organisation still continues to shape the future of mining safety in Queensland. Organically, it has emerged to become one of the key custodians of mining safety knowledge in Queensland.

Simtars’ work also expanded globally, where it works in the resources sectors of the United States, India, China, Turkey, Laos, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea to improve worker competency—making mines safer and bringing real financial savings to resource companies through reduced worker injuries.

Many of these projects have driven significant changes in safety practice and culture in the mining and allied industries.

For example, Simtars has been working with the Indian government to deliver a world class virtual reality system to the Indian School of Mines. The VR system will improve safety and training outcomes for Indian miners, by giving them a real-time view of a mine in an emergency situation, from the safety of the training room.

Simtars’ international collaborations have also been applied back on home soil. It offers gas monitoring and testing as a vital service that our mines rely on. The service has become so successful, Safegas V4 is currently being rolled out to priority mine sites.

It plays a key role in the organisation and assessment of the annual Level 1 Emergency Mine Exercise. This exercise tests the response capabilities of different mine sites to serious emergency situations.

Although it’s important to acknowledge the tragic and unnecessary loss of life that occurred in Box Flat, Kianga and Moura; it’s equally important to acknowledge the progress we’ve achieved from the back of these events.

Simtars is continuing to be on the front line of mining safety emergencies and incidents in Queensland and internationally. Most noticeably its’ current involvement in the North Goonyella Mine Fire, where it has stationed a team of gas chemists to monitor the progress and outcomes of the GAG inertisation for Peabody Energy. Simtars staff also provided services for the Pike River Coal Mine Disaster in 2010 where 29 miners perished.

Main Image: Simtars Mobile Gas Monitoring Facility.

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