Telerobotic experiments for mining

The application of telerobotics to mining is currently being employed in production systems around the world. While mining companies have dominated the pursuit to implement this technology, organizations within other industries have continued to search for ways in which telerobotics could support more productive and efficient operations within their environments. Widespread adoption, however, requires development of the technology to a level well beyond its current state.
A Canadian Research Chair in Robotics and Mine Automation has been established at Laurentian University to advance research and development in this area. In 2002, Cambrian College and Laurentian University embarked on a collaboration to establish a telerobotic research and testing facility. The establishment of this laboratory was an important first step in the development of telerobotic technology and its applications, and has continued to be a significant resource for research and development in this area.
The Laurentian portion of the laboratory consists of a teleoperation chair and a telecommunications control room, both of which continue to be used in ongoing research into teleoperation. At Cambrian College, a series of laboratories support the ability to design, build, and teleoperate 1/4 scale models to full-sized mining machines and full mine simulations. As this work progresses, new control systems, machines, and processes will continue to be developed using telerobotics as a foundation.
The wireless connection between Laurentian University and Cambrian College is accomplished with a “dark fibre” and provides the opportunity to study mobile and multi-machine operation. The economic and safety implications of multiple mine operation scenarios and multiple levels of automation using telerobotics systems can also be examined. The dark fibre between Laurentian and Cambrian connects a head-end located in the laboratory to computers on-board a “teleoperation chair” that incorporates a seat with joysticks and displays to allow an operator to teleoperate a machine. This project has revealed the potential for development of a universal interface that allows a configurable computer interface for all types of machines.
The dark fibre also enters Cambrian College and is connected to a second head-end that supports mobile data communications and mobile video. Sophisticated mining models have been created to test the telerobotic technology being developed. These units incorporate identical electronic and telecommunication systems to those that are currently installed on production robotic machines working in the field at Inco Limited. This allows experimentation with new systems on scale models both at the teleoperation lab and in real mine facilities. A fleet of models is also being created to assist in chair and control system software experimentation. These units will accommodate a link to a pair of laser scanners, allowing the collection of tunnel or drift data and experimentation with alternate guidance systems, providing experimental test-beds for teleoperation and data collection.
To continue the development of this technology, the author and his research team have used the lab and a test-bed in Long Lake, Sudbury, to develop a high-capacity, underwater telecommunications system capable of teleoperating underwater machines. A telerobotic control system for unstructured underwater environments is currently being developed and tested using a fibre optic light buoy system and a corresponding on-board telerobotic system to optically transmit and receive information used to operate a robot using virtual reality.
Originally intended to accommodate the study of telerobotics for mining applications, this research has significant potential for application within manufacturing, space, underwater, and military environments.
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Summary: In 2001, the Catholic University of Chile undertook a maintenance benchmarking study of six open pit copper mines having mill capacities varying between 18,000 t/d and 156,000 t/d, and collectively responsible for 58% of Chilean copper production. Key performance indices were selected to measure the effectiveness, efficiency, and development of the maintenance process.
Key effectiveness indices used in the mining industry are equipment availability, reliability, and maintainability and safety...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): P.F. Knights, P. Oyanader
Issue: 1088
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: Mining in highly stressed ground conditions has been an increasing challenge at Brunswick mine. After over 30 years of mining, there were two large regional pillars established on the 1000 m Level to support the ground for safe extraction of the surrounding ore. The South Regional Pillar contains about 5 Mt of ore and the North Regional Pillar (NRP) has about 3 Mt of ore.
In the fall of 2000, mining activities were suspended following a series of ground movements around the South Regional...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): Q. Liu, B. Ellis, S. Chung
Issue: 1088
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: A pipeline syphon can be a simple and reliable alternative for water conveyance over earthfill dams, or other topographic features, as compared to otherwise more complex pumping systems or buried pipelines. In its simplest form, a pipeline syphon consists of an airtight pipeline constructed over the top of a dam or other high topographic feature, connecting a source pond to a receiving pond or channel. It typically includes a submerged intake, conveyance pipeline, priming device, flow rate...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): K.G. Kress, W.J. Dick
Issue: 1088
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: In open pit and strip mining operations, a variety of mining equipment combinations may be employed for overburden stripping, primarily dictated by the structure and nature of the mineral deposit. In coal extraction bulk operations, such as those found in Germany, Russia, and Australia, bucket wheel excavator-conveyor combinations are used. In the United States, Russia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, dragline mining is common. In almost all countries, shovel-truck combinations are utilized...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): C.O. Aksoy
Issue: 1088
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: In 1998, Atlas Copco released the RCS technology opening the way for a new generation of modularized and computerized drill. Drilling accuracy, information logging, and serviceability have all taken a quantum leap forward when compared with previous generations of drill rigs. The modularity also facilitates almost unlimited possibilities for the expansion and adaptation of drill rig functions.
The Atlas Copco product strategy defines three levels of machine automation: ‘basic’ with manual...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): M. Ramström
Issue: 1088
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: Controlling the level of impurities in copper refinery electrolytes is essential to achieving acceptable cathode purity. Purge of electrolyte to waste is not an entirely satisfactory remedy, since the cost of neutralization, hazardous solid waste disposal, and replacement acid can be appreciable. Recovery by evaporation/crystallization is also not ideal because of high capital, operating, and maintenance costs.
Based on a phenomenon called acid retardation, the APU® process employs ion...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): C.J. Brown
Issue: 1088
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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