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Hörmann Warnsysteme enters Brazilian market with outdoor warning systems

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Mining Review,

The Brazilian mine operator Vallourec has equipped its iron ore mine near the Brazilian town Brumadinho with a modern outdoor siren warning system from Hörmann Warnsysteme GmbH. The electronic sirens are designed to warn employees and the population in good time of dangers such as a possible dam breach. In January 2019, an accident in another mine in this area caused hundreds of people to die in a mudslide. The warning system is said to have failed.

The town of Brumadinho in the Brazilian region of Belo Horizonte became sadly famous in early 2019 when the dam of an iron ore mine burst and the mudslide killed several hundred people. In this area, which is one of the main iron ore mining areas in Brazil, many dams of various mining companies are located. They are generally considered to be risky, and a dam breach can never be completely ruled out, even with high safety standards. In the case of this accident, it was also reported that the warning system had failed.

The Vallourec steel group also operates an iron ore mine in this sector. In order to meet its responsibility for its employees and the local population, it was decided to install a modern, reliable siren system ‘Made in Germany’. This was the first project in Brazil for the German manufacturer. Together with its partners ELMEC Comércio e Indústria Ltda and EKM do Brasil, based in Belo Horizonte, the company planned an outdoor warning system with electronic sirens that would warn both employees and the population in the endangered locations in good time in the event of a possible disaster.

The installation was preceded by extensive planning in combination with sound propagation analyses. This must ensure that all affected regions are reliably warned in the event of an emergency. Three ECN-D electronic sirens were then installed in the working area of the mine and in two villages that would be affected by a flood wave or mudslide in the event of a dam burst. The control centre is located in the company's main control room. It consists of a communication unit to the sirens, to which a PC is connected. The operation and status monitoring of the sirens is done by the company's own siren control.

For security reasons, a backup control centre was also set up to ensure a redundant operation of the sirens. The sirens do not only warn with an alarm tone. They also can be used for announcements and propagation of voice messages. Communication between control centre and electronic sirens is established by a specially installed digital radio network. The mast installation was developed by local partners at great expense in terms of durability and protection against vandalism, following Hörmann's recommendation. The electronic sirens are operated only by batteries which are charged by solar panels. In addition, a generator can be connected in order to maintain operational readiness even under extremely unfavourable weather conditions.

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