Ground-fault protection is a critical requirement for mine operators and miners. The CSA Standard Use of Electricity in Mines covers the need for such protections. It sets standards for ground fault-current limitations and protections in underground mining areas where a spark could cause a major disaster.
Since the 20th century, the mining industry has used sensitive ground fault relays (GFRs) in all their electrical equipment. This is to improve the safety of miners and interrupt any ground-fault currents.
Although the industry has been working on protection and resistance grounding to protect against these situations, they have not been capable of developing protections for personnel or equipment from arc flash events. This is when a phase conductor shorts out, directing to another phase that’s not involved or not grounded. These can occur due to damaged cables or equipment, defective voltmeters, and faulty installations.
These events usually occur during maintenance checks. They generate a large current that ionizes the air around the impacted conductor. This can cause severe damage to equipment, fires, and even death.
PPE is essential to protect workers from arc flash events. However, electrical protective devices can be used to limit the currents and electricity that are released during an arc flash event. These devices are known as arc flash relays and have been used in safety protocols for mining for many years. Although they are expensive, they offer the most protection for your equipment and personnel.
This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Becker/SMC. For nearly half a century, Becker Mining has been at the forefront of safety, producing the best Portable Substation in the industry. Becker/SMC is the industry’s leader in increasingly more sophisticated electrical control systems. Most of the major innovations, design features, and specialized electrical components have been developed by Becker/SMC.