WAM – Case study on the use of a new slope radar tool for mine production crews

Remi Aguila, David Noon, Lachlan Campbell,
Abstract Mine production and drill-and-blast crews are
exposed to unexpected movement of ground when
working under pit slopes. Without specialist
geotechnical advice and appropriate measurement
systems, mine crews are faced with conducting risk
assessments and relying on subsequent controls
that may or may not be adequate to ensure their
safety. Mine crews need an ‘early warning’
monitoring system to give them the confidence that
they will have time to walk out of the danger zone
if the pit slope begins to move.

Slope stability radar technology is used by mine
geotechnical engineers to assess overall slope
stability over an extended period, typically days
or weeks, and to critically monitor slopes that
are actively moving and may become unsafe. The
complexity of slope stability radar allows for
geotechnical engineers to assess movement types
and movement rates across multiple work areas of a
mine from long ranges, with alarm capability to a
central location.

However there are many mine work areas where
production and drill-and blast crews are not
adequately covered or alarmed by slope stability
radar systems. What is required is an easy-to-use,
short-range, fast-scanning tool that can be
operated directly by a work crew and can provide a
local alarm with sufficient warning when a wall
movement occurs within the work area.

The Work Area Monitor (WAM) concept has been
developed specifically to be operated by a mine
production crew. The system comprises a sensitive,
fast-scanning radar coupled with a high-resolution
camera, built into a mine-standard light vehicle.
The system has been designed specifically for ease
of use with the output being a local area alarm to
warn workers of slope movement in their vicinity,
as opposed to the broader pit monitoring and long-
term deformation measurements of the known slope
stability radars.

The WAM now provides mine crews with a tool that
in less than one minute after deployment and every
minute thereafter, can let them know if the slope
they are working under has moved. This tool will
provide confidence, help eliminate uncertainty,
and is a major step forward in protecting mine
crews from rock falls.
Keywords: Stability, rockfall, Radar
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