Abandoned Surface And Old Underground Mine Workings

Table of Contents
22.0 Abandoned Surface and Old Underground Workings 
22.1 Risks and Hazards
22.2 Responsibilities (Due Diligence) with Regard to Old or Abandoned Sites
22.3 Guidelines and Preparations for Exploring Old or Abandoned Sites
22.4 Surface Hazards at Old Workings
   22.4.1 Abandoned Surface, Pit or Strip Mines
   22.4.2 Surface Structures and Machinery 
   22.4.3 Tailings and Water-Filled Areas
   22.4.4 Surface Subsidence
   22.4.5 Explosives and Chemical Hazards
22.5 Preparation Requirements to Enter Old Workings
   22.5.1 Exploration Team Requirements
   22.5.2 Equipment
   22.5.3 Tests and Procedures Prior to Entry
   22.5.4 Underground Lighting
22.6 Ventilation
22.7 Gases
   22.7.1 Oxygen O2
   22.7.2 Carbon Dioxide CO2 
   22.7.3 Carbon Monoxide CO
   22.7.4 Hydrogen Sulphide H2S
   22.7.5 Methane CH4 
   22.7.6 Nitrogen Oxides NO and NO2 
   22.7.7 Sulphur Dioxide SO2
   22.7.8 Radon Rn 
22.8 Shafts, Adits, Tunnels and Declines
22.9 Common Hazards in Old Underground Workings
   22.9.1 Timbers 
   22.9.2 Ladders
   22.9.3 Water
   22.9.4 Muck Piles and Mine Fill
22.10 Sampling on Abandoned Mine Sites' Surface and Underground
22.11 Confined Spaces 
22.12 Resources


Mineral exploration may take place in regions where there are abandoned mines that can provide valuable geologic information when re-evaluated or re-explored. However, abandoned surface and old underground mine workings (including old exploratory drifts) are among the most hazardous places where exploration geoscientists may work. Primary risks include the potential collapse of ground and confined space, which is defined as any enclosed space having a single point of entry and exit. Confined spaces may have a potential to concentrate toxic gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, or hydrogen sulphide, or they may contain insufficient oxygen to support life.