Bluhm Burton Engineering (BBE) is a team of experienced professional consulting engineers who are leaders in mine ventilation, refrigeration and cooling practices; measurement and control of underground pollutants (dust, diesel, methane, radiation etc); energy optimisation and energy recovery, computer modelling and software for ventilation and cooling networks.

BBE provide a comprehensive suite of services including:

  • Conceptual investigations
  • Technical and bankable feasibility studies
  • Due diligence investigations and competent persons reports
  • Analysis of alternative ventilation and cooling distribution systems
  • Selection of the optimum (practical and efficient) systems
  • Detailed engineering specifications
  • Detailed estimates and programmes
  • Turnkey project execution and management (including installation and commissioning).
  • Computer simulations
  • Applied research
  • Identification, development and assessment of new technologies
  • Surveys and audits of ventilation and cooling networks
  • Training courses and preparation of training materials

BBE’s experience includes a wide range of mining methods, in a various ore bodies, in several countries including the following:

  • Mining methods: narrow reef tabular stoping, cut and fill, block caving, longhole and tunnelling
  • Mineral types: gold, platinum, base metal, copper, lead, nickel, coal and potash
  • Countries: South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Peru, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Ghana
  • Equipment types: refrigeration machines, ventilation fans, air coolers, spray chambers, cooling towers, filtration systems, ice and thermal storage


BBE provide a comprehensive service from conceptual investigations, through technical feasibility studies and the analysis of alternative ventilation and cooling distribution systems, to selection of the optimum system, preparation of detailed engineering design specifications, estimating and project execution and management, for existing mines and new projects.

Large surface exhaust fan installation.
Modern refrigeration plant, cooling towers and water treatment plant.
Axial fans drive air through horizontal spray chamber air cooler.
Refrigeration machines in modern plant room.
3D graphics from VUMA network model.

BBE strive for energy efficient systems making optimum use of energy recovery devices (Pelton wheel turbines, three-chamber pipe feeders, hydropower etc)


BBE have considerable experience in the control of underground pollutants and in fire engineering, having contributed significantly to numerous research and investigation programmes around flammability of materials, fire engineering, fire fighting techniques and escape and rescue strategies.


BBE are the driving force and co-developers of customised software for the analysis of mine ventilation, contaminant tracking, refrigeration and cooling networks (e.g. VUMA, Environ, Chiller, Coolflow) with particularly full thermodynamic solutions. The most modern package, VUMA, comprises a suite of modules that determine air flow, pollutant levels and temperature distribution throughout the ventilation circuit and cooling network, all displayed in 3D full colour graphics. The latest addition will interface with live monitoring of underground conditions, with the option for remote control of ventilation ‘on demand’. BBE also perform full CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysis of airflow in drifts for optimised (capex/opex) designs.


BBE senior engineers have over 100 years of experience in mining research, including underground field studies, in the fields of mine ventilation, cooling practices, pollutant control, mine water quality, fire engineering and cooling practices. BBE engineers made significant contributions to numerous research programmes in the South African mining industry (e.g. SIMRAC, SIMCOL, SIMGEN, SIMOT, SIMHEALTH, DeepMine, FutureMine)


BBE engineers have contributed significantly to state-of-art technology, evaluation of novel cooling systems (e.g. recirculation, ice and hydropower) and to analysing the effects of novel mining methods. BBE holds a number of patents related to novel cooling systems and has an on-going programme of implementation and energy and cost reductions.


BBE engineers regularly conduct training courses and workshops for mines, mining houses, and professional societies and also lecture at universities. BBE is registered with ECSA for the on-going development of in-house professionals.

(Images by kind permission of clients.)