As outlined in the March 2020 edition of Murray & Roberts Group magazine Robust, InSig Technologies (InSig) recently installed reliable underground WiFi networks at the Mount Morgans and Edna May underground gold mines in Western Australia. RUC Cementation Mining (RUC) is currently providing full underground services to both mines. Access to fibre optic networks and underground WiFi provided Mount Morgans and Edna May with the ability to remote control LHDs from the surface.
This also removed the need to place a physical control station underground. Before the installation of underground WiFi, operators were only able to control one LHD at a time. However, now they can have one operator controlling two LHDs from the surface. Production has increased due to the ability to keep the LHDs operational over shift changes, along with the ability to keep the LHDs working when conditions would not normally be safe after blasting. This also makes conditions safer for employees, an important tenant of RUC SAFE, which strives for continuous improvement in safe working practices.
RUC Mining states: “The Edna May maintenance team is working with the InSig Technologies team to increase the reliability of the Cat R1700K loader Command remote control system. Early signs have been positive on the back of greater field support from Westrac and Caterpillar as well as site presence of InSig personnel and we expect to continue the improvement as we become more familiar with this system.”
The next step for InSig is to use this same network to deliver ventilation on demand. This includes the ability to monitor air quality from the surface, remotely turning the primary and secondary fans on and off, which will allow for quicker re-entry times back into the mine. The InSig underground mining technology platform provides RUC the ability to control ventilation fans, dewatering pumps, remote access of LHDs and drills and to measure air quality. Mobile assets can also be monitored for changes in condition.
RUC Mining said of these additional capability developments with InSig: “During the first quarter of 2020 the InSig team continued to keep a sharp focus on project delivery while navigating the challenges experienced due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Further to our last newsletter, both the Ventilation on Demand and De-Watering projects continued their product development lifecycle with the Fan control and Environmental monitoring project scheduled to be implemented in mid May 2020. The project will allow for control of secondary fans from the surface and monitoring of gases at pre-defined measuring points within the mine. This will allow for improved re-entry times into the mine. Another big step InSig has taken is the advancement of the Remote Drills Project which will be entering the testing phase during May 2020. The project will present RUC with operational efficiencies and drill control from the surface. A number of new product opportunities have been explored during last few months along with great advancement on current projects, with plenty more to come.”
Murray & Roberts states: “Working with a technology partner that understands IT/OT and IOT has been an important differentiator for RUC and has given it a business advantage over many other contractors and this year the partnership celebrated a year of project success. Murray & Roberts also recently acquired 30% of InSig to accelerate the application of digital technology within the Underground Mining platform.”