From over 20 nominations in the Innovative Mining Solution Category, the Safety Spear was the only physical, real-world product among the three finalists, the others being data based.
Designed and manufactured by
Rattlejack, the SafetySpear works to protect underground mining personnel and equipment from free falling overhead hazards by plugging drill holes quickly and inexpensively with a lightweight, high-impact absorbing polymer system.
First introduced in May 2021, the spears’ market potential is being expanded by Murray Engineering, a Perth based company with an international footprint.
The SafetySpear addresses shortcomings of other practices in widespread global use including corrosion prone steel systems and traditional grouting and plating over where weaknesses can result in serious mine site injury and death.
It has been purpose built to activate on impact with any downward force; its unique two stage design decelerates the impact by blocking the hole with its flexible upper section, conforming to the shape and size of the available space.
This effectively stops the falling hazard with minimal backward movement, a method never seen in underground mining prior.
Installation is achieved with standard production drilling equipment enabling the hazard to be minimised without delay.
With its lightweight design, the SafetySpear also has minimal risk of manual handling injuries, and includes easy to follow pictorial instructions for a simple installation process for operators of all experience levels.
In collaboration with Fosterville Gold Mine Victoria and Byrnecut Mining Australia,
the SafetySpear has been tested in real world conditions across various underground operations across Australia.
With accident occurrences involving severe weights, speeds and forces of height drop acceleration, the SafetySpear has proven results; able to safely handle weights immense weights in simulated worst-case scenarios typical at most mine sites.
To expand on this, at a 20 metre drop of a weight of 12.6 Tonnes onto a 76 mm SafetySpear at 52km/h generates a force of 124,000 Newtons.
This is widely deemed a ‘worst case scenario.’
The same typical 76mm SafetySpear has been tested to a stopping capacity for a weight of 49.2 Tonnes at 71km/h, generating a force of 483,000 Newtons.
Initial financial benefits across the two mine sites also show great promise, with Byrnecut Mining Australia estimating in excess of a $500,000 differential per year, compared to previous methods.
Fosterville has not completed a full 12-month cycle and with much more challenging ground conditions place the differential at $250,000+ per year.