Safety and health - Case Studies

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Coal Dust Suppression System

Anglo American’s Grasstree Mine, near Middlemount, has revolutionised the way coal dust is managed in the underground environment with their innovative dust suppression system. It combines a poly-curtain spray, a continuous enviromist spray and most critically, applies a bio-degradable foam to coal as it moves through mining machinery. This is the first time the foam has been used in development coal mining and it's delivered dramatic results, with a 96% reduction in respirable dust exposure to development coal mine workers.

The system, which was conceived, designed, built and refined by the mine’s Development team, is now being implemented more broadly across the business and wider industry. It received the coveted innovation award at the Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference in 2018. Watch this video to learn more. 



Remote Thermal Lancing Tool

In 2020 the BHP Technology and Fixed Plant team commissioned local WA based company DSM Consulting Engineers to assist in developing and manufacturing a new safety tool used for thermal lancing. As a result, the Remote Thermal Lancing (RTL) tool was invented.

The tool allows operators to remotely dislodge objects stuck in the blades of large Ground Engaging Tools by using pressurised oxygen, fed through a steel tube packed with steel rods, to create a high temperature for cutting. The tool is fit out with a camera, joystick and tablet computer to control and feed to lance into the desired areas.

The RTL tool removes the need for operators to enter potentially dangerous areas to dislodge objects, instead this innovative tool allows the work to be undertaken from up to 30 meters away.

This tool, which was cheap to develop, lightweight and locally manufactured, is really a game changer for thermal lancing activities at our mines. Critically, it removes operators from the line of fire, but it also gives them better visibility of the lodged objects when they’re trying to remove them. It also can be used in other thermal lancing applications such as rail cutting and demolition.

We are really keen to get the word out about this solution so that other areas of our business and other companies can begin using the same technology. It’s an important innovation that can potentially save lives and avoid serious injuries, so we are very open to sharing this concept with whoever can benefit from it.” Kim Tan, BHP Specialist Engineer.

BHP is licensing the designs we commissioned on a royalty-free basis to any interested parties so that these innovations can be adopted more widely. This includes DSM who are equipped to quickly and cheaply manufacture the lances for anyone who needs to improve the safety of their personnel.

If anyone would like to learn more about this remote-controlled lancing tool, they are invited to contact David Miller from DSM Consulting Engineers at or (08) 9457 1111.