Education News

ARC digs deep to promote refrigerant safety in mines

The Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) has developed a booklet and wall chart highlighting the benefits of preventative maintenance and leak detection for mobile air conditioning in the mining sector.

“Regular servicing, maintenance and repairs to mobile air conditioning systems are critical in ensuring minimum downtime of mine site vehicles and optimisation of air conditioning performance and capacity,” says the booklet.

“The air conditioning in light vehicles, ancillary equipment (such as dozers, diggers and shovels) and haul trucks must be maintained and serviced to ensure the highest level of reliability (downtime minimisation) and optimum performance.”

The booklet provide general information on implementing regular preventative maintenance and leak detection processes on mobile air conditioning systems at mine sites. It details the obligations of mine managers, penalties, common causes of performance and refrigerant leakage, and a section warning technicians about the practice of “topping up” systems – or adding refrigerant before checking for and fixing leaks.

The booklet notes that the practice is not allowed under the Australian codes of practice for automotive refrigerant systems. Topping up can also be an offence, with unlawful discharge of refrigerant leading to penalties of up to $66,600 for an individual or up to $333,000 for corporations.

“Topping up is bad for the environment,” says the booklet. “If you haven’t checked for, and repaired, any leaks you will release refrigerant to the atmosphere.

“You also run the risk of mixing refrigerants. If you add refrigerant to an existing system charge before you identify the existing refrigerant, you risk mixing refrigerants. This can weaken the performance of the system, contributing to equipment downtime. There may also be a safety risk.”

ARC is sending these resources to over 200 mine sites Australia wide, mining company head offices and will provide to its field officers to distribute as part of their site audit visits.

To view the information online, click here.

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