Following International Mining’s focus on underground mine refuges in the July issue comes news that MineARC® Systems has made its first major sales of its patented CoalSAFETM refuge model in the US to major mine operators in the southern state of Alabama. The CoalSAFE refuge features the patented MARC.isTM unit – which the company reports is “the world’s first intrinsically safe refuge cooling system.” A total of 38 CoalSAFE units have been ordered by major operators including Jim Walter Resources and Drummond Co, in deals totalling $6.6 million. Under MSHA’s revised 2009 ‘Final Rule’ (Refuge Alternatives in Underground Coal Mines), manufacturers must either provide artificial cooling in their refuges, or at the very least, clearly state the ambient mine temperature(s) at which a safe internal environment for occupants can be maintained (no higher than 95oF apparent temperature). MineArc explains that “rising above these levels, refuges can effectively become hazards in themselves – with temperatures rising to potentially fatal levels in just a matter of hours.”In Alabama, ambient mine temperatures are typically around 85°F. In these conditions, refuges without internal cooling are considered dangerous. MineARC says its CoalSAFE refuges have been independently tested to maintain internal temperature below 95°F apparent temperature at ambient temperatures of up to 85°F.