CANMET Mining & Mineral Sciences Laboratories (MMSL) has established a research initiative in the area of underground coal mining safety, known as the Underground Coal Mining Safety Research Collaboration (UCMSRC). This innovative approach arose from the closure in March 1998 of CANMET operations in Sydney, Nova Scotia and their Coal Mining Health & Safety Program (CMHS). Consultation with CMHS stakeholders subsequently showed that workplace safety and health remains an important factor in underground coal mining and also that there was strong support for CANMET to continue collaborative research in underground coal mining safety.
UCMSRC is a collaborative 'in-kind consortium' which brings together all of the principal stakeholders such as industry, labour, regulators, inspectors and universities, in jurisdictions where underground coal mining is active (Federal and Provincial - Nova Scotia, Alberta and British Columbia). The main goal is to contribute to improving safety and health in underground coal mining in Canada by collaboratively identifying and addressing related technology and knowledge "gaps" in key areas common to current/potential operating mines.
The underground coal mining industry in Canada is small, geographically spread and has recently suffered difficult times not only from complex mining conditions but also through financial hardship. UCMSRC is targeted both at maintaining a focus on safety-related research and at harnessing the synergy of regular dialogue through shared experience and working to achieve common industry goals.