Explosives use at mines

SPC/TECH/SI1/03 - Previously spc/tech/ld5/03


This SPC brings together, updates and replaces previous advice to mines inspectors relating to the storage and transport of explosives and advises on joint working with HID SI2. It does not address the use of explosives underground.


1  The investigation of accidents and dangerous occurrences relating to explosives storage, transport or use at mines is the responsibility of SI1. 

2  SI2 is responsible for the issue of licences for storage of explosives above ground at mines but it is for SI1 to ensure compliance with licence conditions and that separation distances are not compromised.


3  Storage of explosives is licensed under the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (MSER). For storage above ground at mines HID SI2 are responsible for the licensing and licence amendments and will usually carry out an initial inspection and may make follow-up inspections. When explosives inspectors or the HID SI2 Regulatory Contact Officer (RCO) need to visit mine premises on licensing issues they will liaise with the relevant mines inspector.

4  Most mines will have fixed rule licences (for storage of up to 2000 kg) or registrations (for storage of up to 30 kg). These fixed rule licences or registrations are prepared by the RCO and signed by the SI2 principal inspector.

5  Essential requirements of MSER include:

6  In addition, Section 23 of the Explosives Act 1875 (as amended by MSER and extended by Section 39) requires occupiers of registered or licensed premises to take all due precautions for preventing unauthorised access to the premises or the explosives.

Multiple registered premises

7  Storage at some mines is subject to a long standing arrangement for multiple registrations at the same site. These arrangements are under review and will be the subject of separate guidance.

Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2007 (the Carriage Regulations)

8  These Regulations apply the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) to domestic carriage. The Regulations are enforced by HSE, Police and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA). Enforcement for explosives will chiefly be undertaken by explosives inspectors during their visits to manufacturing and storage sites licensed by HSE, and through incident investigation. The police and VOSA inspectors report to HSE any instances of apparent "on-the-road" non-compliance with the Regulations.

9  Mines Inspectors are not normally expected to examine compliance with the Carriage Regulations in detail when vehicles carrying explosives are seen during their inspections. Where mines Inspectors do encounter vehicles that have carried, or are about to carry explosives on the road, certain basic checks can be made of the following good practices that should be adhered to during the carriage of explosives:

10  A vehicle is deemed to be engaged in carriage of explosives from the commencement of loading it with explosives for the purpose of carrying those explosives by road until the vehicle has been unloaded.

11  Where mines inspectors suspect non-compliance with the Carriage Regulations, they should seek the advice of an explosives inspector.

12  Vehicles used to carry explosives, other than internal vehicles used to transport explosives within the same mine site, must meet the construction requirements of ADR (EXII or EXIII) appropriate to the quantity of explosives carried. Mines Inspectors may encounter the use of vehicles being used to transfer explosives between mines. Any vehicle that is not certified as EXII or EXIII is permitted to carry up to 50 kg explosives of Hazard Division 1.1.

13  Explosives classifications are approved under The Classification and Labelling of Explosives Regulations 1983 (CLER). Mining explosives are normally hazard code 1.1D, and detonators 1.1B; the letter refers to the compatibility group

14  Carriage of compatibility groups B and D together on the same vehicle is prohibited, unless they are effectively segregated such that there is no danger of transmission of detonation from the "B" to the "D".  Segregation is normally achieved by use of a special containment system. The segregation method must however be approved by the competent authority (HSE).

15  Explosives of Class 1 may be considered as high consequence dangerous goods and if the quantity of detonators and/or blasting explosives exceeds 50kg then the provisions of Chapter 1.10 of ADR (security provisions) apply. Chapter 1.10 is enforced by VOSA.

The Placing on the Market and Supervision of Transfers of Explosives Regulations 1993

16  These regulations require explosives to meet the essential safety requirements set down in harmonised standards and provide for CE marking. All explosives supplied for use in mines should be CE marked. Further guidance on CE marking is available on the HSE Web site.

17  The regulations also apply to the transfer of explosives from place to place, apart from movements on the same site. The supplier (consignor) must ensure that the receiver (consignee) has a Recipient Competent Authority (RCA) document covering the explosives to be transferred. RCAs are issued by HSE, Mines, Quarries and Explosives Policy Section to the person or company that will be in physical possession of the explosives after the transfer has taken place.

18  The consignee (eg mine) has to send to the consignor (eg explosive supplier) a valid RCA document or certified true copy for the explosives to be transferred; the RCA then accompanies the explosives throughout the entire journey. Regular consignees may send their consignor a batch of individually certified true copies to avoid delays. If a person moves his own explosives from place to place (even in small quantities) an RCA document must accompany the load.

The Control of Explosives Regulations 1991 (COER)

19  These regulations are primarily concerned with persons and record keeping. Enforcement is generally by the Police, including above ground at mines. SI1 is responsible for enforcement of record keeping for explosives underground at mines under Regulation 12(1). Regulation 15 gives details of enforcement.

20  The main requirements are:

Action by Mines Inspectors

21  Any mines inspector finding instances of:

22  The investigating mines inspector should liaise directly with the police in the case of suspected theft of explosives or with the appropriate principal inspector of explosives otherwise.

Further information

For further information or to contact any mines inspector, please contact HID SI1(Mines Inspectorate), at Edgar Allen House, Sheffield.

To contact any explosives Inspector or the SI2 RCO, please contact HID SI2 (Explosives Inspectorate) at 1.2 Redgrave Court Bootle.

Appendix 1: Legal provisions and guidance

Acts and regulations

Published HSE guidance

Other guidance

Updated 2020-12-09