Thermal Stresses

Deep mines and mines sunk in hot countries are hot work sites. Some underground mines in moderate geographic zones are hot because of the unusually high heat flow from the earth. Many mines in the southwestern United States are located along a high heat zone. In mining, as in other industries, the exposure of workers to very hot conditions is unhealthy and unproductive. Persons working in hot, humid work sites tend to be inefficient; quite often workers prefer to stay away from work or ignore unsafe working situations. Studies in South African gold mines have shown that high temperatures reduce the work output of miners. However, over time, the essence of these benchmarks loses meaning when they become ‘tick boxes’ for the industry to show sustainability. This appears to be the case currently. There is a need to take stock of what has been achieved thus far, recognize the changing nature of environmental and social impacts and consider ways of building resilient socio-ecological systems that include mining.