November 2008 – Denver, Colorado

November 2008 Denver, Colorado



Renaissance Denver Hotel
3801 Quebec Street
Denver, Colorado

Meeting Minutes

Nov. 19th ,Wednesday
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
•     Registration and Hospitality room


Nov. 20th ,Thursday
7:00 am – 8:00 am
•     Registration


8:00 am – 8:15 am
Opening remarks/Business Meeting
•     Jed Jensen President


8:15 am – 9:15 am
•     Group Discussion Divide into groups to discuss Safety, New Innovations & Technology, Problems and Solutions, and Future Meeting Presentation Topics and locations. Summary of discussion will be presented the following morning.


9:15 am – 9:30 am
•     Break


9:30 am –10:45 am
Blast Hole Drill Automation
•     Mike Casson and Jarrid Cima, Flanders Electric


10:45 am – 11:00 am
•     Break


11:00 am – 12:00 am
•     AC IGBT Drives and Their Applications
Gary Sorenson and Rob Marnell, Drives and Controls Services


12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
•     Lunch


1:00 pm – 1:45 pm
•     Vendor commercials


1:45 pm – 2:00 pm
•     Break


2:00 pm –3:00 pm
•     On-Line Predictive testing of Medium Voltage Equipment
– Bob Sheppard, GM Southwest Energy Systems


3:00 pm – 3:15 pm
•     Break


3:15 pm – 4:00 pm
•     Overview and Field Experience: DC-EXX IGBT Exciter MG Set Drive
– Bill Horvath, PE TMGE Automation Systems


4:00 pm – 4:30 pm
•     The Effect of Spring Pressure on Carbon Brush Wear Rate
– Jeff Koenitzer, Helwig Carbon


5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
•     Hospitality room


Nov. 21st ,Friday
8:00 am – 9:00 am
•     Group Discussion
Summary of Group Discussions held on Thursday


9:00 a.m.– 9:15 am
•     Break


9:15 am – 9:45 am
•     Application of Vacuum Circuit Breakers and Disconnect Switches in Medium Voltage Mining Switchgear
– David Gohil, AZZ/Central Electric Mfg. Co.


9:45 am – 10:45 am
•     Allen Bradley Programmable Automation Controllers:
Multidiscipline Control, Diagnostics and Communications
– John Haley, Rexel


10:45 am – 11:15 am
•     ProSmart Wireless Machine Condition Monitoring by ITT Goulds
– Mark Brown, ITT Goulds Pump


11:15 am – 11:45 am
•     Introduction to the Mining Electricians Program at Mesa State College
– Bob Peterson, Program Coordinator Community Education Center MESA State College Grand Junction/Montrose, CO


11:45 am – 12:00 pm
•     Closing remarks
– Jed Jensen, President


12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
•     Lunch


1:00 pm
•     Steering committee meeting



Topics Discussed



Group Discussions


Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Group 5

Group 6

Group 7


Group 6








Group 1 Discussion


·         Close Calls…

  • One mine had many incidents of Parking Brakes not being set on trucks.  When operator gets out and starts down ladder he notices the truck start to roll, and has to scramble back up the ladder to set the brake.
  • This mine installed switches on the door that would alarm if the brake was not set when the door was opened.

·         Chips from Hammers…

  • This mine requires a soft face on all hammers 2# and above.  Manager removed all other hammers from the site.
  • They have had close calls and severe injuries resulting from flying chips from hammers.
  • Another mine uses slide hammers…
  • Another mine uses brass faced hammers…
  • Troubleshooting Instrumentation
  • Phil Kanning – Falkirk
  • On 8750: Wire Dataq Isolator in permanently to Computer in PCR less likely to have problems with leads…
  • Needed platforms around motors… ON an 8750 a welder was using a Hoist motor to climb on when he slipped, fell and cracked three ribs.
  • Video Cameras Remotely
  • Mine is using cameras in the house of draglines to monitor equipment remotely


MSHA Issues:

  • Cracking down on Noise from MG-Sets…
  • MSHA Citation costs are much higher…
  • Recheck everything… citations written on items that have existed for years and years without so much as a comment.  For Example a resistor that had three sides covered well with an open 4th side.  Over 7 feet high.
  • Screens on heater fans etc that are well above 8 ft off the ground.
  • One mine had an installation approved by MSHA.  However it was discovered that a Class I Div II methane alarm did not de-energize an electric hoist due to an error in wiring design.  MSHA wrote a citation even thought they had approved the installation.  (Will Younkin)
  • MSHA cited one mine an S&S for a crack in the ground lead insulation from the work to the welder.  When the inspector was challenged, she agreed to reduce to a NON-S&S if so advised by phone after consulting with an MSHA electrical inspector.  The citation was reduced.
  • MSHA does not allow citations to be conferenced, unless  very severe.  It is difficult to get inspectors to reconsider facts surrounding the inspection before they write a citation.
  • Lost Time Incidents:
  • One mine conducts a ‘Time Out’ for a lost time. A special company wide meeting might be held to discuss the incident to prevent recurrence.  Peer Pressure Works…
  • Line man video of graphic shock incidents…  Promotes Safety Awareness & Education


Problems and Solutions:

  • One mine has had numerous (previously) unexplained tripping of a single dragline.  The problem started with an instantaneous trip of switchgear feeding the dragline once every week or two.  The problem worsened over a period of two years, becoming less frequent with changing voltage taps to the mine distribution.  Machine would exhibit flicker of the lights when motoring to the spoil on occasion.  Sometimes the lights would flicker off.  Sometimes the machine would trip off line on instantaneous overcurrent.
  • Troubleshooting efforts revealed a 2.1 Hz oscillation was in the KVAR regulator where a Watt Transducer normally outputs DC to the KVAR Regulator.
  • A capacitor has been used in the KVAR regulator to dampen the oscillations to permit running until an active filter can be installed to cancel the 2.1 Hz oscillation.
  • Will report on the success of the filter at a later date.
  • A detailed explanation of the phenomenon, why it happens and possible solutions would be most valuable.
  • The problem is emergency (parking) brake failures on (Chevy) pickups equipped with automatic transmissions.  It turns out that unless the emergency brake is applied to the maximum so the vehicle will not move when put into gear… the brake is not likely to be released when the vehicle is moved.  One time is all it takes on a Chevy and the emergency brake fails and won’t hold when applied again.  This can be nearly a weekly issue with some operators.  The emergency brake is a pre-shift inspection item… and therefore gets written up all the time.  Our gas mechanic wants high voltage run to the seat, so the operator gets jolted when he forgets to release the brake and drives off.   We are trying to convince the Safety Dept. that in these pickups the parking pall in the automatic transmission is designed to serve as a parking brake for the vehicle.  The emergency brake should only be used if the pall fails or the service brakes fail.  The question is:  Do other mines have the same issue, or have they already installed shock collars?  Does MSHA recognize the pall in the automatic transmission as a suitable parking brake?


New Innovations and Technology:

  • Don Bockman-Flanders: Commissioning… Promote the use of Oscilloscopes
  • Use Dataq with long leads for commissioning and troubleshooting.


Future Topics:

  • MSHA Compliance Issues
  • EPA and Energy Efficiency:  2010 new Standards will become effective…
  • What is required?
  • How will this impact the mines?
  • What Political pressures will the change in administration and congress hold for mines?  New Legislation?
  • 2 Hz Phenomenon on Synchronous Motors
  • Vivian Fadlevish, Consolidated Mine Service has offered to make a presentation on “Proper Splicing Techniques” of mine cable
  • She can be reached at 903-757-3100
  • Electricians…  South Dakota Tech has ‘em…


Future Locations:

  • Austin, TX
  • Spokane, WA
  • Denver is always a favorite

Hotel is excellent
Centrally Located


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Group 2 Discussion


  • More and more switchgear is being designed with arc flash in mind to limit the incident energy exposure to the electricians
  • Some are requiring the OEM to provide arc flash information in the specifications
  • Discussed an incident while in a transformer room where the escape door was   locked with a pad lock on the outside.  The group thought that doors with panic bars are a much better option.

Innovations and Technology:

  • Gary Sorenson mentioned the 680W retrofit from DC to AC, which we saw a presentation on yesterday.
  • Alan Patterson mentioned that one of their customers has implemented continuous monitoring of field coils by splitting the field coils, three and three and then comparing them.

Future Topics:

  • NFPA 2009 changes
  • Update on Aaron Spielman’s presentation on RTEA’s implementation of arc flash.
  • There was a suggestion to discuss the viability of putting together a data base for electrical spare components, much like the OPMA spares list that existed years ago.

Future meetings:

  • Suggested that a meeting be held once a year in Denver.  It is very easy to travel to and a good share of our attendees travel through Denver anyway to get to other meeting sites.  The Renaissance provides an airport shuttle which makes it very convenient.  It was also noted that the hotel has made improvements with the renovations they have done.


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Group 3 Discussion


·         Our group discussed Arc Flash. Josh commented on the point is Rio Tinto Energy going to start requiring the same compliance from Vendors that we require of full time employees. It was then mentioned by Christine that Caballo mine requires that they wear special coveralls. Canada is regulated by CSA and they are developing and going to require some type of Arc Flash rules. It was also mentioned that NFPA 70E has not studied the Arc Blast effects as of yet.  I made an attempt to briefly discuss the Arc Flash Requirements that are set forth by Rio Tinto as we have fully implemented arc flash protection for AC down to our 480 volt MCC units. Rio Electricians have been trained on Arc Flash and have been issued coveralls, Level 2 protection, and the level 4 protection and then talked out some of the engineered controls that are available on the market that take you out of the approach boundaries or reduce the available amount of fault current in the area you are working.  It was also mentioned that fuses have a quicker interrupt time which also minimizes the fault current.

·         Also in the area of safety Mark Perkins of Helwig talked about keeping your work area clean specifically talking about taking the time to keep your work area clear of tripping hazards. That led into the take five process and that the employees at Rio Tinto are required to perform informal take five procedures before every task that they perform. When performing safety interactions in the field the take five booklets are checked to determine if the process is being used. Caballo mine completes a safety audit daily.

Innovation and Technology:

  • Startco-Little fuse has a new product which was described as uplink and it is DIIN rail mounted. It provides a 24 volt dry contact and that sends a signal to the PLC for fuse status indication.
  • KUCC had some upgrades to their substations and all mech-elec protective relaying with Multlin units. That provides fault tracking and the ability to download info and store it electronically.
  • ABB relays have engineered controls to help reduce the potential for Arc Flash injuries.
  • Also talked about was the use of high resistance grounding to minimize ground fault currents.
  • There are improved operator chairs for an 8200 dragline to improve the ergonomics for operators.
  • Dave Gertz from Falkirk mentioned that they have converted their touch screens to stand alone units so if they fail it does not affect the operation of the machine.
  • Josh Jones of P&H mine pro mentioned the JLT interface which allows the capability of remote access for troubleshooting and possible remote repair of machines.
  • Mark Perkins mentioned that he like some other suppliers are keeping stock on hand at his shop for immediate needs of the mines
  • Chris Schroeder talked about a project coming up for DCS in Columbia where they are going to motivate an 8750 dragline for a 20 mile walk by hooking three 1800 kw motivators in series.


Problems and Solutions:

  • There are some problems that are occurring with the mining trucks with OEM wiring practices where connectors are used. Large wire is converted to smaller wire feeds and paralleled through connectors and when one of the wires breaks loose it then burns up the remaining small wires. Question was there any fixes for this problem at other locations.
  • It was then asked is anyone grounding their portable generators. No one is driving ground rods for light plants. Motivators are set up to detect ground fault currents and if that happens the engine on the motivators are set to shut down and stop the flow of current.


Future Topics:

  • PLC course sounds good.
  • What will be the PPE requirements for Vendors and could there be a list of expectations as almost all properties have different requirements.
  • Standards for transformer efficiencies and requirements. Requirements for harmonics-effects of VFD’s, the use of split transformers secondaries, power system efficiencies.
  • What are others doing for VAR corrections?



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Group 4 Discussion


  • Arc Flash/Arc Blast
  • Actions on precautions taken vary widely among locations. Rio Tinto operations seem to be leading the way. At their mines, full engineering fault studies have been completed, all hazardous locations have been defined as to hazard level(s) and identified accordingly and protective gear, from FR coveralls to full blast suits are provided. Electricians have been trained in proper procedures and use of protective gear. Some locations are providing FR coveralls and clothing (Level 1 and higher). Some locations are awaiting MSHA’s direction prior to taking any actions. 40 cal flash/blast suits are being provided at some locations. Concerns were expressed regarding whether these suits are being used by the electricians consistently or at all. The suits are very hot and cumbersome. There were several that said much of the FR clothing is very warm, and does not breathe well, making it uncomfortable to wear in high ambient temperatures. One individual said they had purchased some clothing from Dry fire, and it is quite comfortable, even in high ambient temperatures. The company’s website was said to be Note: I tried this to no avail. Sorry!
  • Grounding Knife Switches/Disconnects

Knife switches (disconnecting means) that ground all 3 phases when in the open position are being utilized at least one location. They are pleased with the performance of these switches to date. Switches are available for high and low voltage applications. These particular switches require a complete change out of the entire switch. The question was asked if kits, to retrofit existing switches, are available. Nobody knew of anything like this out there.

  • CommPro Profiling Instrument

Some discussion occurred regarding the new profiling instrument, CommPro which is being distributed by Carbone. This tool allows non-contact profiling of commutators or slip-rings at full speed. As discovered at one location, it will also recognize TIR and BTB readings at different RPMs (full machine speed compared to manual rotation), possibly giving some early indicators of commutator glass banding deterioration or loosening.


New Innovations:

  • Startco combination Ground Fault/Ground Check relays. Startco gave a presentation during our meeting on these.
  • Arc Flash relays, manufactured by Schweitzer, that have a 2 ms reaction time.
  • Some discussion took place regarding the future of excavator drives, i.e. AC or DC? All agreed that AC has evolved much in the last 30 years, and is being utilized very successfully by several OEMs. However, AC technology is also quite expensive. There was general agreement amongst the group that most mining companies will utilize their existing DC equipment to its full life cycle. AC equipment will be considered most often when equipment is being replaced, or fleets are being expanded.



  • At least one MSHA inspector has recently asked that ground rods be installed and driven for portable light plant/generator applications. Most in the group agreed this is not necessary, and has not been required by MSHA. WMEA meeting notes, from 1988, document a discussion panel with MSHA. In MSHA’s reply, to this question, it is distinctly stated that the generator frame, and/or equipment frame serves as the means for grounding in these applications. NEC 2008, Article 250.34 also states the same.
  • One discussion group member mentioned that an MSHA inspector had concerns or questions that qualified electricians should be performing 24 vdc  work on rolling stock equipment. There are several locations in both MSHA Part 75 and Part 77, where 40 volts or less,  is referenced as “non-electrical” work, or “no shock hazard existing”. This is the only instance I have ever heard of an MSHA inspector questioning the need for qualified electricians to perform work at levels lower than 40 volts, and I believe this is the commonly accepted and practiced guideline.


Future Meeting Topics:

  • Flame Resistant Clothing and Protective Gear
  • Wireless Communication networks and devices in mining environments
  • Invite MSHA in for a panel discussion



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Group 5 Discussion


  • Antelope Mine has surpassed 3 Million workforce hours without a loss time injury
  • P&H has introduced the use of “metatarsal” safety boots
  • Syncrude & Antelope are “NFPA ready”. Others at different stages for protection of Electricians
  • NFPA general discussion


New Innovations:

  • Asset Management Software (including wireless technology) being implemented at Rio Tinto sites
  • Komatsu AC 830 Haulers introduced to Elk Valley Coal
  • New P&H 4100 Shovel being assembled at Syncrude


Problems & Challenges:

  • Training the Operators & Maintenance Techs on the new Komatsu AC 830 Haulers
  • Grounding rods for portable equipment – does it apply to Welding Machines?
  • MSHA inconsistent on rulings between sites
  • Operator joysticks and issues with “return to neutral” (safety concerns)


Future Presentations:

  • Next Canadian site should be Vancouver, BC
  • Differences between Canadian & American electrical codes. MSHA (US) vs. M421 (CAN)
  • Siemens Automation Training (offered by Bruce Reeves)
  • PLC Training – Generic vs. Vendor specific, Ladder Logic, Communication & Protocols, configuration, firmware, software, upgrades & reasons for.



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Group 6 Discussion


  • Rio Tinto discussed the Take 5 Program, Wade passed out Task Books, which is given out to each employee to be filled out whenever they perform a task.  It as “how can I get hurt?” and “What can I do about it?”  At anytime someone can ask to see your book, and if they have done a good job they are rewarded.  They also have safety drawings for nice awards.
  • We talked about several near miss incidents where someone else’s action may get you hurt.  Had a hoist motor being aligned, locked and tagged out properly.  Someone else was working on the hoist rope, attached to the hoist drum, and decided to rotate the drum.  This caused the motor pinion coupling to rotate at a high rate of speed.  No one was hurt but it did damage the alignment tool and made everyone aware to check out their surrounding work area.
  • Several of our vendors discussed working on a variety of mine sites; the policies differ but complimented Mine sites for having a better awareness for their safety.
  • It was also discussed that safety was a value and began with everyone, everyday.  Safety begins when you wake up every morning.
  • Many agreed safety programs need to change frequently and there were two web sites brought up that might offer information.
  • One was The Rocky Mtn. Electrical League and their website is
  • The other one is Northwest Public Power Association and their website is  Those might be some good resource materials.


New Technology:

  • P&H talked about increase use of remote control drum position.  This gets the miner away from the hazard area.
  • Carbonne talked about the Compro Profiler getting the miner away from the hazardous area.  Also in developing this profiler they worked with miners to understand their needs.
  • Rio Tinto talked about monitoring trucks from a central location and they monitored truck maintenance data and truck production data.  And working with vendors to improve vehicle health.  Working on setting policies to prevent remote programming.


Problems and Solutions:

  • MSHA requiring ground rods at all light plants if 110v power cord is being used.  Sabine Mining Co. was required to do this, but most facilities do not do it.
  • Talked about neutral return on joy sticks control.  Springs not wanted by operators vs. safety factor of joy stick not in neutral.  Asked about other resources for joy sticks.
  • Discussed a little about NFPA-70E.  No vendor in our group had been required to use protection as of yet.


AC IGBT Drives And Their Applications; DCS – Nov 08

Aluminum Cable for Mining Applications – Nov 08

Effect of Spring Pressure on Brush Wear Rate – Helwig – Nov 08

Effect of Spring Pressure on Carbon Brush Wear – Nov 08

Mining Electricians Program – Nov 08

Power Performance Drill Upgrades – Flanders Electric – Nov 08

Programmable Automation Controllers – Allen Bradley – Nov 08

ProSmart Machine Condition Monitoring – Nov 08

Future Meeting:

  • Encourage WMEA to continue to meet in miner populated areas.
  • Would be interested in PLC classes and PDMA looking at line data on loops.
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Group 7 Discussion


  • Recognized National Carbon in Greenville, SC for 1 million man hours over 2 years time with no lost time accidents. They were issued a commemorative coin for their achievement.
  • We talked about the dangers of walking under a moving conveyor and the wise use of hard hats.
  • Rio Tinto and Foundation Coal members talked about their ongoing Arc-Flash protection programs.
  • We talked about the use of breakaway neck straps as one of the group members had gotten their ID badge caught in a paper shredder.


New Innovations:

  • Talked about using remote mounted sensors for vibration monitoring in inaccessible areas.
  • Paint Earth mine talked about their upgrade to Startco protective relays for their sync motors and the benefits this provides.
  • We discussed the use of back up cameras on large mining equipment as there was a recent fatality in the Powder River basin from a backing incident.


Problems and Solutions:

  • Paint Earth mine is looking for information on soft starting a 3500 hp GE sync motor.


Future Meeting Topics:

  • The group mentioned getting more information on the maintenance and troubleshooting of MG sets.
  • Presentation on protective relaying for power distribution systems.
  • Information on IR windows and listing of MCC’s after installation of IR windows.
  • Several members wanted a presentation on “helper drives” for dragline applications.

Event Details

Start date: 05/01/2008