The latest modular bulk air coolers (BACs) offer alternatives to capital refrigeration plants at mines. According to Aggreko Australia-Pacific Managing Director, George Whyte, the trend in the industry for deeper mines has resulted in a requirement for larger cooling capacities and innovation, particularly in increasingly remote locations.

This, coupled with rising global temperatures, is forcing operation managers to seek affordable alternatives to cooling and ventilation systems.

Aggreko has launched a new mine cooling solution for mines going deeper with the release of its latest modular BACs. “The modular Aggreko 40-foot (or 12.19 metres) mobile BAC10000s our team has created are unique and relatively new to the mine cooling market. They are scalable, portable and boast three times the cooling capacity of our previous largest offering – the 20 foot long (about 6.09 metres) containers,” says White.

Aggreko BAC10000 unit on site. Photo credit: Aggreko

Aggreko BAC10000 unit on site. Photo credit: Aggreko

Having a simple design involving pipes, chilled water and three axial fans – all comprised in a modular shipping container – the new BACs offer simplicity and convenience when compared to purpose-built onsite cooling plants.

Aggreko Underground Cooling Sector Manager, Mitch Bevan says, “The unit is more suited for larger installations and offers improved efficiency rather than using a large number of smaller BACs,”

“Capital refrigeration plants take a long time for mines to prepare for financially, as well as to install whereas we can mobilise on relatively short notice. A rental option also provides a great deal of flexibility, which is often crucial for underground vent systems where it is difficult to predict the requirement year on year.”

According to ScienceDirect, deep mining is set to become more common. Already, deep mining at 1 000 metres underground is considered normal, the depth of geothermal development has reached more than 5 000 metres, and oil and gas exploration has reached about 7 500 metres. In the mining industry, effective ventilation and cooling is needed to keep the temperature within the sub 30 degree Celsius ‘safe zone’. “Long running mines have continued to grow and their refrigeration requirement grows with the mine, so BACs are appealing as they can be scaled up or easily moved onsite,” said Bevan.

The BACs are a quick and effective installed solution and from and energy efficiency and safety point of view, this solution works well as the unit requires no infrastructure, it sits directly on the ground (no need for concrete), it only requires water and power. “Currently, our water-cooled chillers use half as much power as air-cooled options, which is part of their appeal,” concludes Bevan.