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Case study – Seismic Task Team makes good progress

Case study – Seismic Task Team makes good progress

Gold Fields SA region FOG all injuries frequency rate (rate per million man-hours worked)   The Seismic Task Team, formed last year under the leadership of rock engineer Frans Castelyn, has already made great strides in quantifying the risk associated with seismicity and put strategies in place to reduce the exposure of Gold Fields’ workers to seismic events. This has been instrumental in reducing the operations’ fall-of-ground (FOG) injuries by 38 per cent for the current fiscal year. Fatalities linked to seismic events have fallen to two in financial 2010 from 11 in the previous years.


These major advancements are the result of the combined efforts of a team of highly qualified and experienced mining seismologists, and some of the best seismic systems in the country, all stationed at Gold Fields’ Seismicity Laboratory at Driefontein.

At South Africa’s Driefontein and Kloof Mines, underground geophones equipped with three-way sensors detect seismic events and send the data through to a centralised control room, alerting the Seismic Task Team whenever a potentially dangerous seismic event has occurred. The team analyses the data to determine a more precise location within a 30 meter margin of error, before sending this information through to the shaft at the mine where the event took place. The entire process can take as little as three minutes and actively saves lives.

  “On the team’s recommendations, Gold Fields has also implemented centralised blasting, whereby all blasting takes place during a specific time window when there are no workers underground. Our research shows that seismic action is directly related to blasting activity and that 70 per cent of seismic events occur within two hours of blasting, so this strategy drastically reduces the exposure of our workforce,” explains Castelyn.
Frans Castelyn at the Seismic lab