June/July 2012


Compiled by Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco



Due dust diligence


Introduced last summer, the Sensidyne CDEM-1000 Coal Dust Explosibility Meter is a handheld instrument developed at the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), and commercialized as a joint effort between NIOSH and Sensidyne, LP.  It was designed to be used by coal mine operators, safety officials and regulators as a screening tool to help manage daily rock dusting operations and mitigate explosion hazard potential. It displays a red indication for insufficient rock dust levels and a green indication when the minimum safe level of rock dust is reached. “For the first time, mine operators have a real-time device to help in identifying and mitigating the explosion hazards resulting from inadequate rock dust levels,” says Howard Mills, president, Sensidyne, LP.


Vehicle safety updates in real time


In February 2012, Doran announced the integration of the Doran 360 tire-pressure monitoring system and its SafetyTrax AVL fleet monitoring system, which provides dynamic, web-based software for fleets, including GPS, speed tracking and the ability to create ad-hoc or scheduled reports. “From a safety standpoint, the integration allows the mines to know – in real-time – if a vehicle has critically low-tire pressure, which could prevent a blowout, and it also sends high-temperature alerts,” says Jim Samocki, Doran’s general manager. “It can send email alerts or text messages to a mine-site manager or a control room so that if a driver is ignoring the in-cab monitor, somebody else can have eyes on it to help make the driver accountable.”

An ear through the ground


MagneLink Magnetic Communication System is a new, self-contained, through-the-earth wireless system that provides post-accident, two-way, emergency voice and text communications for the coal mining industry, independent of surface or in-mine infrastructure.  The system transmits via magnetic waves through the earth. “It was designed for a post-accident situation to allow miners and those on the surface to communicate,” says Lockheed Martin’s MagneLink program manager Warren Gross. “But you can interface other data to the MagneLink, whether it is leaky feeder radios, tracking systems or other sensor data. That means there are other potential uses for this product, including using it as a subaerial wide network that allows the surface rescue team to communicate with all the miners down below and provide them with situational updates.”


Keep gasses in check


Instead of using a conventional analog signal, the Smart Head gas monitoring system digitizes the gas signal directly at the sensor. “This results in dramatically higher accuracy,” says Dave McCullough, Conspec Controls Ltd.’s operations manager. “As well, there is far less degradation of the signal, which dramatically improves gas monitoring. Each unit also has its own temperature sensor because gas sensors will react at a different rate depending on the ambient temperature, so putting in a temperature compensation rate also dramatically improves accuracy.” Each Smart Head also stores operational parameters, past calibration results, operating temperatures and real-time records that enable the supervising system to take such proactive actions as plotting the internal periodic calibration records to predict the operating life of the sensing cell.


Remote rockbreaking


Transmin’s Rocklogic Rockbreaker Control System for remote operation of rockbreakers received a Western Australia Information Technology and Telecommunications Award for 2011. “It’s the first of its kind to be fully tested in a production mining environment,” says Tane Pendragon, a senior automation engineer on the Controls & Automation team at Transmin.  It includes collision avoidance – which uses sensors and a 3D model of the installation to guard the rockbreaker against damaging collisions – automated movements and remote operation that “allows the operator to sit, safe from the hazards of underground mining, in a control room up to 20 kilometres from the rockbreaker,” says Pendragon.  “Automated movements allow the operator to execute pre-programmed action, such as parking and deploying, or moving to a particular position at the touch of a button, saving time and workload.”


  A second set of eyes


GroundProbe industry pioneering slope stability radar (SSR) technology and deformation analysis are embodied in the Work Area Monitor (WAM), which uses SSR in real time with fast-monitoring capabilities, taking between 30 seconds to 120 seconds per scan. Winner of the 2011 Innovative Mining Solution Award from Mining Prospect Awards, the system is installed on a vehicle and includes integrated personal alerts for the crew and supervisor/geotechnical staff, allowing access to operations where high wall or slope issues add a heightened risk factor. “The Work Area Monitor is quick to set up and easy to use,” says Albert Cabrejo, senior geotechnical engineer, GroundProbe. “WAM is your spotter that tirelessly looks out for you, day and night, keeping you safe.”



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