Note on the Use of Plastics in Coal Mining

Bain, A.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Unavailable
The use of plastics in the coal mining industry is making slow progress whereas these materials could make a greater contribution to safety, to a reduction of working costs and to the higher productivity of mine workers. Possibly the reluctance to experiment with the new material of our age is due to the low profit margin of coal mining. This note has been prepared to present a brief survey of what has been done in the last few years and to mention some of the investigations the author has made and is making in an attempt to develop more use of plastics in the industry. Some of the plastics used on the mines have taken their place in the industry in the same manner that they are used in everyday life while others have been introduced because there has been a need for them. New uses and applications are being developed and these are the ones that are most interesting. The plastic that is specially developed to give the maximum benefit and not the one that is a modification of some other everyday product is the next development in the field. Many manufacturers are keen to promote such investigation but are not aware of the problems the mines wish to solve and therefore it is only through management itself that this development can be carried out. This note deals with plastic material under three headings: (a) Plastic as the superior material, and briefly describes how plastic has replaced a few major items which are better when made from plastic. (b) Plastics of necessity, being a short summary of how plastics had to be introduced because of laws and conditions making it a necessity. (c) Development of new ideas, being briefly some of the ideas being developed overseas and some of the ideas being tried by the author. Plastic items in common use such as in housing, electric cables, laboratory equipment, awnings, nylon bearings, locomotive brake linings, etc. being well known are not discussed. PLASTIC AS THE SUPERIOR MATERIAL Plastic belting underground Following a fire in a belt road in England resulting in the deaths of many workers, and subsequently a fire accompanied by fatalities in a belt road in a mine in this country, a law was introduced which states that only flameproof belting is to be used underground. This ruling forced the mines to use P.V.A. belting as no other was available. This belting has non-inflammable characteristics that are superior to rubber. Due to the high tension on long-distance belts used today the need for stronger belting material called for something better than cotton and the answer to this was nylon. Nylon also has the ability to withstand dry-rot which reduces the life of a belt very quickly.
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