While mining safety has improved considerably over the last two decades, mining is still one of the most dangerous occupations in the world.
On a routine basis, miners are exposed to a number of serious hazards: cave-ins, floods, gas explosions, wet surfaces, chemical exposure, dust, fumes, moving and falling machinery, and others.
In many instances, individual solutions are in place to mitigate these problems; but as new tools and techniques are utilised in mines, a more holistic and real-time approach to mine safety must be considered.
Environment monitoring solutions, strata control and monitoring instruments are becoming essential and standard components in mining operations, allowing for constant inspection and reporting of the environment, as well as alerting operatives to any changes or emergence of hazardous elements. These solutions will help to maximise safety in potentially hazardous locations, boost operational efficiency and reduce operational costs.
Standardising the use of strata monitoring and control equipment, machine monitoring systems, and mine-wide environmental monitoring systems, including electronic telltales, instrumented rockbolts, sonic extensometers, gas and dust detection systems and condition monitoring systems, is essential to provide a 360 degree underground safety solution. With such solutions available, there is no longer an excuse not to implement them to maximise employee safety and efficiency.
The importance of a complete mine monitoring system to ensure operator safety
Knowing the status of every aspect of a mining operation is essential to maximise safety, and the complexity of mining means there is a lot to stay on top of. Ventilation fans, water pumps, power status, environment condition, operator status, communications and machinery status, to name a few, all need to be constantly monitored, and having visibility of these elements will enable more data-driven decisions and optimise mining activity.
For example, real-time mine monitoring systems allow operators to readily analyse and evaluate every aspect of the mine operation. This includes readily identifying hazards, controlling critical mine systems, monitoring the environment and assessing machinery and flagging issues.
Real time monitoring also means managers can check operator status and mine output/performance, as well as communicate mine-wide, with information delivered directly to systems in real-time, enabling greater control over the mine.
Also, third-party solutions and individual equipment can be synchronised with mine monitoring systems, allowing operations to be continually expanded where necessary with specific equipment. Additional sensors like humidity, airflow and vibration, personnel tracking tools, control and display solutions, dust detection, gas detection, borehole inspection cameras, extensometers, rockbolts and more, can all be added where necessary.
An expandable mine monitoring system fit for any – and every – need
While strata control and mine monitoring instruments form the backbone of mining operations, giving visibility into every aspect of the operation, having an array of tools to manage and assess the environment will help to boost operational productivity and improve employee safety.
Extensometers and telltales, for instance, can improve safety in areas where structural integrity is questionable and act as an early warning system for potential structural movements or rock falls. Similarly, instrumented rockbolts provide accurate recording of rock movements and the surrounding environment, especially unstable ground.
Combining these instruments gives a full overview of safety and potential dangers of the environment.
A major cause for concern in mining operations is gas and dust exposure, and reliable and instant detection of toxic and flammable material, or elements which can cause long term health problems is crucial in promoting safety.
A combination of both fixed and portable detection equipment should be standard within operations, allowing for the static and constant monitoring of a particular area, while individual operators have the mobility to investigate other areas with the same level of detection and protection.
Comprehensive mine monitoring systems are a must
With the technology that exists today, complete strata management and ground control is entirely possible. Coupled with this, advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics means that more accurate and insight real-time reporting and monitoring is possible – promoting data-driven decisions.
Creating a real-time, 360 and strata managed mining operation will not only improve operator safety but productivity and efficiency.
It’s time to recognise the power of real-time information. Manual strata monitoring systems lack up to date, accurate data. Get a real-time picture and single overview of your mine's operations using intelligent monitoring instead! Download our eBook to learn more: