Keeping it clean

The importance of the bath house to a coal mine was summed up by Albert Henry Buck in his 1842 Treatise on Hygiene and Public Health.“The miner’s first care on coming home from work is to take a tub-bath, cleansing his skin thoroughly. He then dresses in a clean suit, eats his supper, and is ready for the duties and amusements of the evening, both of which are few and simple,” Buck wrote.It is probably a fair bet that since Buck penned his treatise the evening duties and amusements of the modern day miner have become somewhat more sophisticated as has the post pit tub-bath process.An example of this modern day refinement has recently been completed by New South Wales-based design and construction contractors Thorby Bros. It has recently finalised work on a $3.4 million bath house and office complex at the Wambo Coal Mine for Peabody Pacific.Located in the Hunter Valley, about 30 kilometres from Singleton, Wambo is one of Peabody’s largest operating mines producing around 5 million tonnes of saleable thermal coal a year.“It is a big bath house,” Thorby Bros managing director Don Thorby told CIN’S sister publication Australia’s Mining Monthly.“It is 1200 square metres and has 400 baskets in the dirty side and 400 baskets in the clean side, catering for 400 miners, including separate facilities for female miners.“The project also included the construction of a two-storey office building with more than 30 offices. “The job took six months, that’s from go to whoa. We did the entire project from design through construction from a greenfield site.”For those unfamiliar with coal mine bath house protocols, the baskets Thorby is referring to are not used by the miners to tote their quarry home. They are used in place of the regular, steel cabinet-style locker to store and secure clothes and valuables.Thorby Bros uses the LOCKERBASKET system of the American Moore Company. Each miner has a basket on the dirty side where they can hang their work clothes to be aired with full exposure to light and circulating fresh air.On the clean side they store their mufti, which they change into after showering.“The baskets hang off the ceiling on a pulley system that allows the hot air off the fans to circulate through the clothes and keep them dry, whereas everything in a regular locker just sweats,” Thorby said.“The other major advantage of the basket system is that it also allows you to accommodate a lot more people in the same area because there is a lot more floor space available.”Using up to 85% less floor space than conventional locker systems the LOCKERBASKET system hangs in a corridor of moving air, as opposed to a closed environment. It kills off odour-causing bacteria while promoting quick and thorough aeration of clothing.Thorby Bros has completed similar projects in the Hunter Valley for Coal and Allied, and for Rio Tinto at the Vickery mine at Gunnedah.“Having done these projects previously made the Peabody one a bit easier,” Thorby said.“They each had a bath house, mine offices, car parks and so on, so that was really a repeat of a similar construction.”

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