Tag Archives: EMESRT

South Africa coal mines continue proximity detection rollout, Booyco Electronics says

South Africa-based proximity detection system (PDS) specialist Booyco Electronics says it is continues to grow its footprint in the domestic coal mining sector as more mines work towards “Level 9” compliance.

According to Booyco Electronics CEO, Anton Lourens, the scale of recent orders from underground collieries and open-cast operations are testament to the company’s leadership in the sector.

“We support an extensive population of our proximity detection equipment on trackless mining machines (TMMs) in coal mines and expect to see enthusiastic take-up of our new-generation Booyco CXS product,” Lourens says. He highlights that the customer base includes not only the Mpumalanga coalfields, but also those in KwaZulu-Natal province – supported by the company’s network of branches including Witbank and Richards Bay.

Regulations currently demand that any electrically-powered TMM in an underground mine must be equipped with a PDS, but many coal operations have a combination of diesel and electric units. He emphasises that the regulatory framework will soon enforce Level 9 requirements – with more advanced collision avoidance capability – for both diesel and electric TMMs.

“We are working closely with many OEMs and mining customers on aligning and testing our respective equipment for Level 9 compliance,” he says. “It should be remembered, however, that the industry still has considerable work to do on the application of PDS technology to surface diesel TMMs, which pose a range of technical challenges.”

An active participant in the mining industry’s Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT), Booyco Electronics says it collaborates extensively with stakeholders to support mines’ safety and compliance efforts.

“Coal mines have a key role to play in the testing and application of collision avoidance systems, as the industry upgrades to ever-more effective safety protocols,” Lourens says. “The Booyco CXS consolidates all we have learnt in our 15 years in business, taking that vital step from a warning system to a fully-fledged collision avoidance system.”

He highlighted that the Booyco CXS retains the intrinsically safe technology of previous generations, making it more cost effective and generally easier to manage. “The common alternative to intrinsically safe equipment is for suppliers to add a flameproof enclosure to house the PDS, which tends to be heavy and impractical,” he says.

Another contribution to safety and productivity is the Booyco Electronics Asset Management System (BEAMS) – a central information hub for a mine’s PDS assets. Centralising information from PDS hardware and monitoring devices, BEAMS enhances operations by identifying patterns of unsafe behaviour that can be promptly addressed, according to the company.

Gold Fields installs CAS safety solution at Tarkwa gold mine

Gold Fields is upping the safety stakes at its Tarkwa gold mine in Ghana, employing a collision avoidance system (CAS) that should reduce the number of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-personnel interactions at the open-pit operation.

Having installed a fatigue management system back in 2012-2013 – which saw equipment interactions and accidents decrease – the company has now purchased the HxGN MineProtect Collision Avoidance System Pro as part of a “discrete, dedicated project”, a company spokesperson confirmed to IM.

Hexagon says the CAS Pro system protects all mining vehicles, assets and vehicle operators within 500 m of the installed cab-based unit in open-pit mines.

The solution provides 360° awareness for surrounding vehicles and selected assets, as well as a collision avoidance function based on path prediction, the company explained.

Using GNSS and RF technologies, the solution enjoys high operator adoption because of minimal nuisance alarms and enhanced safety for all mine and vehicle types, according to Hexagon.

The Gold Fields spokesperson said CAS Pro was being used in line with Earth Moving Equipment Safety Roundtable (EMESRT) guidelines. The solution includes operator awareness and advisory controls, the spokesperson added.

As part of the project, Gold Fields has issued 150 personal tags to employees working near operating equipment, including spotters and samplers. The operating equipment to benefit from the new solution includes 84 dump trucks, 21 excavators, 65 pieces of ancillary fleet (including loaders, dozers and service trucks) and 100 light vehicles (50 with fixed CAS units and 50 with removable units).

While the CAS solution does not include anti-braking functionality, it does have a range of other intervention procedures, according to the spokesperson.

“Stopping a plus-200 t haul truck in milliseconds in an open-pit environment may create other hazards,” the spokesperson explained.

Zyfra examines advanced systems for V2V, V2P collision avoidance in surface mining

Development of a legal framework and emergence of new safety requirements at industrial facilities is translating into the need to introduce new information technologies capable of minimising the number of hazards and emergencies, writes Alexey Klebanov*.

Analysis of accident statistics for surface mining operations shows that incidents involving collisions of heavy equipment, running over light vehicles and personnel are the most common type of accident, posing a serious threat to human life and health. Such accidents are primarily caused by poor visibility from the operator’s cabin. The table below shows the most common accident scenarios:

The low manoeuvring speed of heavy mining equipment produces the illusion of safety, while the design features of this equipment create blind spots where the operator is not able to see the surrounding objects.

Collisions of mining equipment with light vehicles causes disastrous effects not only to people’s lives and health, but also on the operational capability of the equipment. A single accident, even if it does not involve injuries, may halt the mining operations for a few days. Costs of repairs, equipment downtime, administrative penalties and loss of production – all of this has a significant negative impact on the efficiency of mining operations.

Let us have a closer look at some of the actual cases described above:

1) The dump truck operator was moving along a service road and failed to see the car of a company’s employee in time and ran over its right side making it almost completely flat (Figure 1). The employee in the car was able to bend down to the passenger seat, which saved his life.

2) Approximately an hour after shift start, a KAMAZ 43118 fuel truck arrived to the refuelling site, and its driver started refuelling a Komatsu PC 2000-8 excavator. The excavator driver did not make sure that there were no people in the hazardous area of the working excavator and thought that the truck nearby had finished refuelling and left. A backhoe operator started turning the boom towards the open-pit bench, caught the truck with the excavator body and tipped it over (Figure 2). The KAMAZ driver was pressed against the ground by the truck cabin.

Figure 1: accident with a passenger car ran over by a dump truck
Figure 2: accident with a fuel truck tipped over

Statistical data on the largest Russian surface mining companies for 2003-2018 shows that 24% of accidents with mining equipment are related to the units moving or operating when people are in the immediate vicinity. This includes 14% of cases with people being in the driver’s (operator’s) blind zone, and 12% of accidents related to reverse movement of the units or movements of their back sides. One-fifth of all these accidents, based on the investigation results, could have been prevented by an external observer who would see the whole picture from the outside.

Currently, administrative barriers such as restricted access areas for people and light equipment, strict manoeuvre regulations and sound alarms when reversing are virtually the only way to protect against collisions. However, statistics show that these measures are not sufficient and do not provide adequate security.

The task of minimising the number of such accidents can be met by using dedicated hardware and software systems that can expand the operator’s visibility without distracting him from his production tasks or overloading him with excessive visual information. Thus, the collision avoidance system for mining equipment should take up most of the information load and should provide the operator with a minimum set of data on the number, type, location and hazard level of static and moving objects located in the working area of a dump truck or excavator. The system has to perform prioritising and ranking of both the current hazard level of the situation based on the distance to the objects, and the intensity of alerting the operator of a possible collision by means of sound and visual alarms while minimising false alarms.

Preventive accident control measures are currently being implemented at foreign mining operations. These vehicle interaction defensive controls can be divided into the following levels (according to The Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT)):

Collision Warning Systems belong to Level 8 (advisory controls) of preventive accident control measures and are the first level for implementation of a more general class of Collision Avoidance System (CAS), which, in addition to the warning functions, provide the possibility of emergency stop of the vehicle in order to prevent an accident (Level 9 of preventive accident control measures). As the emergency stop function requires intervention in the vehicle design or control information channels to operate the actuation mechanisms, the development of such systems requires direct cooperation with the mining equipment manufacturers.

It should be noted that already for a few years the legislation of the Russian Federation demands that underground mining equipment must be provided with collision warning systems. Order of Rostechnadzor No.599 of 11.12.2013 states: “Transport vehicles operating in mineral mines should be equipped with collision warning systems. The collision warning system shall provide the driver with timely notification if people and vehicles are present within a certain radius along the unit path.”

Currently, the law does not require the surface mining equipment to be fitted with collision warning systems, however, the current trends in improving industrial safety indicate that such requirements may be introduced in a few years to come. Thus, discussions are already underway in the professional community to provide mining equipment in opencast mines with collision warning systems.

Let us consider the technologies that are currently used in collision warning systems. There are two main scenarios for collision warning ie Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Person (V2P).

Depending on the scenario, as well as the operating conditions, several technologies are used to design collision warning systems that employ such devices as LiDARs, radars, video cameras or radio communications. The systems available in the market have different prices, working range and are designed for different operating conditions. The main technologies used in collision warning systems include:

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS): a satellite navigation system, which is a more accurate analogue of GPS. High accuracy is achieved by using a ground station which coordinates are constant and do not change. The station serves to correct the measurement error of GPS-trackers on vehicles or carried personnel tags. This method can be used in both scenarios, ie V2V and V2P and is intended for surface mining only.

Operating principle of the GPS-based collision warning system

Advantages:

  • Easy to implement as an extension to functionality of dispatching system for surface mining operations; and
  • Allows to add functional features, eg location of objects on the map, control of proximity to hazardous areas, etc.

Disadvantages:

  • Not applicable for underground mining operations and enclosed spaces;
  • Requires a stable GPS signal;
  • Depends on the data communication system between the machines and/or the server; and
  • Requires 100% coverage.

Surrounding Radar Scanning Systems: These systems employ radars and LiDARs. This technology is intended for operation in the line of sight area and is used in the V2V scenario. It can be used both for underground and surface mining.

 

Example of an Orlaco surrounding radar scanning system

Advantages:

  • Fully autonomous operation of each mobile unit;
  • Ability to detect obstacles and lack of roads;
  • Ability to combine information from radars and cameras; and
  • Can be used as a system to prevent collision with obstacles.

Disadvantages:

  • Operation is possible only in the near zone;
  • High cost; and
  • Is applicable to the V2V scenarios only.

An example of such systems is the Hexagon HxGN MineProtect (CAS) solution that offers 360° proximity detection when traveling at any speed and in all conditions, providing the information on a cabin display. The proximity detection system uses the radar technology to assess the position and movement of potential hazards, using risk-based algorithms to distinguish between safe objects and objects that may pose a collision threat. The situational awareness is further enhanced by calculating the speed and path using the GPS data.

Camera-based systems: As a rule, camera-based systems are used as a supplement to radars or any other technology, because they are highly susceptible to environmental conditions (lighting, fog, contamination of optics, etc) and do not provide sufficient reliability for autonomous application. It can be used both for underground and surface mining.

Radio frequency systems: The UWB (Ultra-Wide Band) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) bands are generally used. This technology is intended for application in the V2V and V2P scenarios. Its operation is based on the exchange of data messages between all the objects equipped with this system within the line of sight with the possibility of terrain following. The distance is defined by measuring the time a signal passes between several sources with application of the trilateration method. This system is applicable in all scenarios and for any mining method.

Operating principle of the radio-based collision warning system

Advantages:

  • Direct interaction between the mobile equipment and carried devices for personnel;
  • Possibility to use in surface and underground mining as well as inside buildings;
  • High accuracy; and
  • Working distance of up to 70-250 m (depending on conditions).

The RealTrac Collision Avoidance System is a good illustration of this technology. Monitoring is carried out in a horizontal plane within 360° at distances from one to 100 m. The system uses UHF to detect presence of mobile equipment or people behind obstacles or corners, as well as the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to check if the operator is in the cabin to avoid false triggering. Proximity detection is performed autonomously both in driving and when the mobile equipment is parked. The system virtually divides the space around the vehicle into three zones:

Proximity detection zones

Attention Zone where people are warned about the presence of equipment within a short distance. It is used to detect a potentially dangerous proximity and helps to alert people of an approaching asset.

Danger Zone identifies a dangerous proximity and alerts people. It serves to warn of a possible accident.

Emergency Zone triggers an alarm signal in an emergency situation or if an extremely dangerous proximity is detected.

As a rule, such systems include the following components:

  • Radio modules placed all around the mobile unit and designed to detect on-board modules of other vehicles and personal tags;
  • An indicator or a monitor, which is installed inside the vehicle to provide visual alerts of hazardous proximity;
  • An on-board computer that calculates the direction and distance to other objects; and
  • A personal tag, which is a piece of carried hardware designed to detect dangerous proximity between the person and mobile mining equipment.

A general comparison of the most common technologies that use radio frequencies is provided in the Table:

All the described technologies have their advantages and shortcomings, so a combination of solutions should be used when the situation requires enhanced reliability:

Possible combinations of various technologies to design a collision warning system

For the operations that employ a dispatching system, eg the OpenMine Mine Fleet Management System (VIST Group JSC) based on the satellite navigation system, one of the efficient combinations is UWB + GPS, which offers a number of advantages:

  • Low equipment cost (through the use of available infrastructure);
  • High accuracy and range of detection, operation in any weather conditions; and
  • Radio frequency range that does not require licensing.

In addition to the dangerous proximity to mining equipment, miners’ lives and health are threatened if they are present in areas of potential rock falls and slides, collapsing walls and other hazards. Automation of operating supervision and warning if personnel enters such zones is directly related to accident prevention tasks.

Such monitoring and prevention of hazardous situations asks for a new role in the company, ie the industrial safety manager, who would provide a ‘second pair of eyes’ without being distracted by the actual production operations. The manager’s location in the mine fleet control room will allow to consolidate all the emerging incident warnings to create a real-time overview of the company’s industrial safety.

Monitoring of dangerous health conditions of employees at work completes the supervisory control. A number of such conditions may not be recognised by the employee, and it is, therefore, important that they are promptly identified and addressed through urgent medical assistance.

All the tasks above are successfully solved using personal wearable electronic devices. If the health checks are included, such a device can take the form of a biometric hand bracelet with the following functionality:

  • Site positioning;
  • Control of entering pre-defined hazard zones;
  • Monitoring of heart rate variations, blood saturation;
  • Detection of sudden height changes (falls);
  • Detection of long periods without movement;
  • Personal identification when detected by mining equipment;
  • Urgent call to the dispatcher;
  • Backup emergency communication channel with the dispatcher; and
  • Immediate reporting to the control system.

Based on the above, it is possible to formulate the general technical requirements for a collision avoidance system:

  1. The system components should be installed on all types of mining equipment, making installation and removal as easy as possible. The maximum installation time for one vehicle must not exceed four hours (for a 130-220 t mining dump truck with a team of two technicians).
  2. The system shall provide the following operating modes:
    – V2V proximity detection; and
    – V2P proximity detection.
  3. The system should ensure real-time proximity detection within the range of 360° and the horizontal distance of at least 100 m.
  4. The proximity detection is to be performed at the speeds of up to 60 km/h.
  5. The system needs to differentiate the hazard zones depending on the distance and colour-code these zones on the indicators. The size of the zones can be dynamic and depend on the speed and direction of the moving object.
  6. Different ways (sources) of alerting shall be implemented for each zone on the operator display or the personal tag depending on the hazard level.
  7. The system has to minimise the number of false alarms.
  8. It needs to be scalable, have a high upgrade potential and allow for integration with dispatching systems.

Selection of a collision avoidance system should rely not only on the current tasks to ensure a specified safety level in the operation, but also on the needs of industrial process management in the company.

Some systems also provide location data for vehicles and people, and can be integrated with the driver fatigue control systems. All the collected information can be used in combination with the permit-to-work system, which may become the first step towards implementation of the Multifunctional Safety System within the operation, which should generally provide for:

  • Control of the current state of the surface mining operations against the design solutions and the mine development schedule;
  • Control of operation of the main mining and transport equipment;
  • Monitoring of geomechanical and seismic processes;
  • Warning and location systems for mobile equipment and personnel;
  • Communication functions, including those with professional emergency response teams; and
  • Availability of other safety systems (subsystems) whic account for the specific features of a particular operation.

*Alexey Klebanov is Science Director at Zyfra Group

Booyco Electronics to provide Otjikoto gold mine with ‘true collision avoidance system’

Proximity detection specialist Booyco Electronics says it is equipping 19 mechanised mining machines with its latest Booyco CXS proximity detection solution to enhance safety during the development phase of underground operations at B2Gold’s Otjikoto gold mine, in Namibia.

According to Anton Lourens, Booyco Electronics CEO, the order was placed by Murray & Roberts Cementation, one of the contractors establishing the underground stoping horizon for the Wolfshag zone at Otjikoto mine.

The contract also includes sensing devices for 120 underground personnel on the operation, which will be included in the employee’s cap lamp to provide an alarm.

“Our equipment will help achieve the highest level of safety by mitigating the risk of collisions between pedestrians and vehicles, and between vehicles, on this project,” Lourens says. “The installation of our CXS units is in line with the commitment by the mine and the contractor to zero harm in the workplace.”

The Cementation Lewcor JV contract will take 28 months. Lewcor Mining is a Namibian company with extensive mining experience in that country. The contract includes a decline of 5 m wide by 5.5 m high being driven to the orebody from a portal in one of Otjikoto’s depleted open pits. The operation will be highly mechanised, with equipment including drill rigs, dump trucks, LHDs and utility vehicles, as well as shotcreting and ancillary equipment.

Lourens highlights that Booyco Electronics’ latest generation CXS system is a comprehensive and integrated proximity detection solution, taking a step beyond being just a warning system to become a “true collision avoidance system”.

He added: “The CXS system on this project will deliver Level 7 and Level 8 capability in terms of the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Roundtable (EMESRT) and can also accommodate Level 9. Although there is not yet a legal requirement for collision avoidance systems in Namibia, our customer and the mine adopt a global best practice approach to all aspects of safety in mining operations.”

With the mine’s location more than 300 km north of Windhoek, it is important the equipment is robust and reliable to ensure maximum uptime, according to Lourens.

“To ensure that the equipment performs optimally, we have trained the customers’ artisans on how to look after it,” he said. “A qualified serviceman from Booyco Electronics will also visit the site regularly to audit performance, assess the equipment and conduct any necessary maintenance.”

Booyco Electronics’ home-grown technology has seen wide take-up in underground operations – both hard rock and coal – as well as in the open-cast environment, plants and warehouses, the company says. It now has a footprint of over 100 mining customers in South Africa, with this Namibia project part of a gradual expansion into other countries in Southern Africa.

Lourens says the use of collision avoidance systems is likely to keep increasing, as more miners adopt the EMESRT guidelines.

He concluded: “The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is also an important stakeholder in this process. The ICMM highlights that transport and mobile equipment accidents were highest cause of fatalities at their members’ operations in 2018, accounting for 30% of fatalities.”

Booyco lays groundwork for all miners to achieve Level-9 safety compliance

Supporting mines in their quest for zero-harm, Booyco Electronics says its CXS solution has leveraged technology to achieve new levels of safety in underground and surface mining environments.

“The Booyco CXS solution is engineered to mitigate the risk of collisions between pedestrians and vehicles, or between vehicles, in operational environments,” Booyco Electronics CEO, Anton Lourens, says. “This system takes the vital step from being just a warning system to becoming a collision avoidance system.”

Lourens highlights that the Booyco CXS consolidates everything the company has learnt in its 15 years of serving the sector. By upgrading to a new hardware platform, the system’s software updates can be conducted remotely and more frequently – providing increased functionality. It also allows users to comply with the latest and ever more stringent safety regulations.

“Our Booyco CXS is a comprehensive and integrated response to Level 7, Level 8 and Level 9 safety levels – as defined by the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT),” he says.

The new hardware platform is based on principles proven by Booyco Electronics over many years. Technology includes the reliable and accurate Very Low Frequency technology for pedestrian detection, and GPS and radio frequency technology for vehicle detection in surface applications.

“At the heart of the system is the Booyco Host Unit (BHU),” Lourens says. “This receives information from the pedestrian sensors, the trackless mining machine sensors and the wheeled mobile equipment sensors. It then conducts the necessary proximity calculations and algorithms to alert users to any impending risk scenarios.”

Lourens also emphasises that this BHU integrates with original equipment manufacturer systems, either directly or through a third-party interface, in accordance with ISO 21815.

“This allows the Booyco CXS to apply Level 9 intervention instructions to the machine, as required to, for example, automatically slowing it down or bringing it to a complete stop,” he says. “Our flexible, comprehensive approach with the Booyco CXS solution has been developed to ensure that all customers can achieve Level 9 compliance, irrespective of the age of their machines.”

ICMM looks to align mining industry on cleaner, safer vehicles

When the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) launched its Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) program just over a year ago, some industry participants may not have realised how much progress could be made so quickly by taking a collaborative approach.

The ICMM has proven influential across the mining industry since its foundation in 2002 in areas such as corporate and social governance, environmental responsibility, and stakeholder relations, yet it has rarely, until this point, engaged directly as an industry group with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service providers.

Close to 12 months after being established, it’s clear to see the program and the council itself has been successful in bridging a divide.

It has been able to corral a significant portion of the mining and mining OEM market players into a major industry discussion on core focus areas set to dominate the sector for the next two decades.

Now 27 of the world’s leading mining companies and 16 of the best-known truck and mining equipment suppliers are collaborating in a non-competitive space “to accelerate the development of a new generation of mining vehicles that will make vehicles cleaner and safer,” the ICMM says.

The ICSV program was created to address three of the most critical safety, health and environment performance issues in the ICMM’s mission towards zero harm and decarbonisation. Achieving this goal would involve the industry introducing and adopting the next generation of equipment to respond to the challenges.

More specifically, the program aims to:

  • Introduce greenhouse gas emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040;
  • Minimise the operational impact of diesel exhaust by 2025; and
  • Make collision avoidance technology (capable of eliminating vehicle related collisions) available to mining companies by 2025.

In all three, it seeks to address the industry’s innovation challenge of ‘who motivates who’ or the chicken and egg analogy, according to Sarah Bell, Director, Health, Safety and Product Stewardship for the ICMM.

“You can imagine a mining company saying, ‘we can’t adopt technology that doesn’t yet exist’ or an OEM saying, ‘we can’t invest in development because we’re getting mixed market signals’. This is, of course, why this program has been set up in the way it has,” she told IM. “Bringing both the mining company and OEMs together, they have been able to work through these normal innovation challenges and align on defining the direction of travel and critical complexity to be solved for each of the ambitions set.”

High-level participation

The list of companies the ICMM has been able to involve in this program is impressive.

It is being guided by a CEO advisory group of six; three from the mining community – Andrew Mackenzie (CEO, BHP), Mark Cutifani (CEO, Anglo American) and Nick Holland (CEO, Gold Fields) – and three from the mining equipment supply side – Denise Johnson (Group President of Resource Industries at Caterpillar), Max Moriyama (President of the Mining Business Division at Komatsu) and Henrik Ager (President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology).

On the mining company front, ICMM membership makes up around 30% of the total metal market share, with some 46% in copper, 27% in gold and 42% in iron ore. Participating OEMs and third-party technology providers, meanwhile, include the three majors above, plus Cummins, Epiroc, Wabtec Corporation (formerly GE), Hexagon Mining, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Liebherr, MacLean Engineering, MTU, Modular Mining Systems, PBE Group, Nerospec, Future Digital Communication and Miller Technology.

Bell says the high-level participation builds the “widespread confidence” needed to accelerate investment in these three key areas”, while the ICMM’s focus on the leadership side of the technology integration equation and change management has proven “absolutely key”.

She clarified: “This collaboration operates under anti-competition and anti-trust rules. Our role is to convene the parties, motivate action and promote solutions.”

The program offers a “safe space for the OEMs and members to work openly in a non-competitive environment”, she added, explaining that the aim is not to come up with “preferred technologies”, but define the “functional and operational pathways required to meet the ambitions set”.

Vehicle interaction (VI)

Some of the ambitions look easier to achieve than others.

For instance, collision avoidance and proximity detection technology has made huge strides in the last decade, with the ICMM arguing its 2025 target is like a “sprint”, compared with the “10,000 m race” that is minimising DPM underground by 2025 and the longer-term aim to introduce GHG-free surface mining vehicles by 2040.

“There are regulations that require implementation of collision avoidance and proximity detection technology by the end of 2020 in South Africa,” Bell said. This will undoubtedly provide a catalyst for further developments to speed up.

The ICSV program is also leveraging the work of the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT) in its development of fundamental functional/performance requirements for operators and technology providers.

These requirements were updated and released by EMESRT in September and are known as ‘PR5A’.

Credit: Hexagon Mining

Bell delved into some detail about these requirements:

“The EMERST requirements are designed around a nine-level system that seeks to eliminate material unwanted scenarios such as – equipment to person, equipment to equipment, equipment to environment and loss of control,” she said.

“The fundamental change with this newly released set of functional requirements by EMESRT is that the mining industry users have defined the functional needs for levels 7-9 (operator awareness, advisory controls, and intervention controls). That stronger level of collaboration hasn’t necessarily been there.”

EMESRT and its guidelines have been given an expanded global platform through the ICMM’s ICSV, with the program, this year, providing the convening environment for users and technology providers to help finalise these updated requirements, according to Bell.

With all of this already in place, one could be forgiven for thinking the majority of the hard work involved with achieving the 2025 goal is done, but the working group focused on VI knows that while OEMs continue to retrofit third-party vehicle collision and avoidance systems to their machines the job is not complete.

“Let’s think about the seatbelt analogy: you don’t give buyers of vehicles a choice as to whether they want a seatbelt in their car; it just comes with the car,” Bell said.

“At the moment, by design, vehicles don’t always have this collision and avoidance systems built in, therefore there is a big opportunity for collaboration between OEMs and third-party technology providers.”

Underground DPM goals

“The DPM working group have recognised that, in the case of the DPM ambition, ‘the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed’,” Bell said.

“Bringing together the OEMs and the mining companies this year through the ICSV program has enabled the group to explore the variety of existing solutions out there today,” she added.

These existing solutions include higher-tier engines, battery-electric equipment, tethered electric machinery, fuel cell-equipped machines for narrow vein mining and solutions to remove DPMs and other emissions from the environment like Johnson Matthey’s CRT system.

And, there are numerous examples from North America – Newmont Goldcorp at Borden, and Glencore and Vale in Sudbury – South America – Codelco at El Teniente Underground – and Europe – Agnico Eagle Mines at Kittilä (Finland, pictured) – to draw from.

Bell also mentioned some examples from Australia where regulatory changes have seen miners apply existing technology and carry out changes in their work plans and maintenance practices to minimise DPM emissions.

Haulage and loading flexibility, battery charging and mine design have all come under the spotlight since these new generation of ‘green’ machines have emerged, so achieving the 2025 goal the ICSV stated is by no means a foregone conclusion.

“There remains more work to do in achieving diesel-free vehicles underground,” Bell said.

The interested parties are aware of this and the program’s DPM maturity framework is helping miners and OEMs plot a course to reaching the target, she explained.

“The DPM maturity framework promotes existing solutions available today that would enable a mining operation to reduce their DPM emissions to a level that would meet the ambition level (shown as Level 4 – transition to zero),” she said.

These frameworks are useful for starting a “change conversation”, Bell said, explaining that mining companies can assess within their organisations where they currently sit on the five-level chart and discuss internally how to move up the levels to meet their goals.

These same frameworks look beyond minimising “the operational impact” of DPM emissions underground, with Bell explaining that Level 5 of the maturity framework involves “non-DPM emitting vehicles”.

GHG-free surface mining vehicles

Even further in the distance is the longer-term target of introducing greenhouse gas emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040.

This ambition, more than any other, is less clearly defined in terms of technological solutions across the industry.

While battery-electric solutions look like having the goods to reach DPM-free status underground with expected developments in battery technology and charging, the jury is still out on if they can create a GHG-free large-scale open-pit mining environment.

The world’s largest battery-electric haul truck – eMining’s 63-t payload eDumper (pictured) – may have proven its worth at a Ciments Vigier-owned quarry in Switzerland, but the world’s largest open-pit mines require a solution on another scale altogether.

As Bell said: “There is a lot of work to do to develop batteries at scale for surface fleet that suit the different operating conditions.

“That’s a key point because that lends itself to the fact that we don’t want one solution; we will need multiple solutions. We don’t want to stifle innovation; we want to encourage it.”

ICMM member Anglo American has hinted that hydrogen power could be one solution, and the miner is looking to show this next year with the development of its hydrogen-powered 300-t payload haul truck.

There has also been in the last 18-24 months a mini renaissance of trolley assist projects that, ABB’s Gunnar Hammarström told IM recently, could, in the future, work in tandem with battery-powered solutions to provide a GHG-free solution.

The ability for industry to pilot and validate technology options like this “within the boundaries of anti-competition” is crucial for its later adoption in the industry, Bell said.

She said a key enabler of industry decarbonisation is access to cost competitive clean electricity, which would indicate that regions like South America and the Nordic countries could be of interest in the short and medium term for deploying pilot projects.

It is this goal where the industry R&D spend could potentially ramp up; something the ICMM and the ICSV is aware of.

“For the OEMs and mining companies to effectively minimise capital expenditure, optimise R&D expenditure and reduce the change management required by the industry, there needs to be a careful balance of encouraging innovation of solutions, whilst managing the number of plausible outcomes,” Bell said.

In terms of encouraging the development of these outcomes, carbon pricing mechanisms could provide some positive industry momentum. Vale recently acknowledged that it would apply an internal carbon tax/price of $50/t when analysing its future projects, so one would expect other companies to be factoring in such charges to their future mine developments.

Industry-wide GHG emission caps could also provide a catalyst. In countries such as Chile – where up to 80% of emissions can come from haul trucks, according to ICMM Senior Programme Officer, Verónica Martinez – carbon emission reduction legislation could really have an impact on technology developments.

Forward motion

While 2019 was a year when the three working groups – made up of close to 50 representatives in each work stream – outlined known barriers or opportunities that might either slow down or accelerate technology developments, 2020 will be the year that regional workshops convened to “encourage first adopters and fast followers” to move these three ambitions forward take place, Bell said.

A knowledge hub containing the previously spoken of maturity frameworks (delivered for all three groups) will allow the wider industry outside of the ICMM membership to gain a better understanding of how the miner-OEM-service provider collaboration is working.

Bell said the ICMM already has a number of members testing these group frameworks on an informal self-assessment basis to understand “how they are being received at an asset level and feedback insights to the group in an effort to understand how we may portray an industry representative picture of where we are today”.

Such strategies bode well for achieving these goals into the future and, potentially, changing the dynamic that has existed between end users and suppliers in the mining sector for decades.

Bell said: “The feedback that we got from OEMs is that mining companies had completely different objectives, but they have now greater confidence that we are aligned on the direction of travel towards the ambitions set.”

Wabtec on the evolution of collision awareness systems in mining

In an article arguing proximity detection and collision awareness technology makes for not only a safer, but more productive mine, Craig Hoffmann, Senior Product Manager – Collision Awareness & Geospatial Systems at Wabtec Corp’s Digital Mine division, has revealed that the company is currently working on conducting single and multiple machine testing on a production mine site using its collision awareness system.

In an opinion piece titled, Pioneering collision awareness technology enables safer mining practices, Hoffman went into the history of this technology, as well as the milestones the Wabtec team have achieved.

Mining has always been seen as a risky business, whether undertaken above ground or deep beneath the earth’s surface. But, thanks to a combination of government regulation in South Africa and a concerted industry effort by mining companies and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), further enabled by cutting-edge technology, it’s becoming a lot safer, he writes.

In several respects, South Africa is leading the way in this drive towards the ideal of a mining industry with zero avoidable fatalities. Collision awareness is a crucial component of this quest, contributing to the layers of protection against significant risk associated with vehicle interactions.

A collision awareness system (CAS)* is an integral part of mine safety management tools that helps workers make the right decision at the right time in order to mitigate vehicle interaction risk while helping to increase productivity and improve situational awareness.

The need for a CAS in South Africa was identified as far back as 1995, when the Leon Commission of Inquiry into Safety and Health in the Mining Industry identified haulage and transport accidents as the second largest category of accidents in mines.

The government wasn’t slow to respond. A year later, the Mine Health and Safety Act was enacted, which places the responsibility on employers to ensure mines are safe and workplaces healthy.

At the same time internationally, there was a concerted move towards making interactions between vehicles, vehicles-to-persons and vehicles-to-environment significantly safer. The Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT) was established in 2006 by six global mining companies. From the outset, engagement with OEMs was seen as crucial to the success of its efforts.

Since its formation, EMESRT, as part of the Vehicle Interaction Systems Performance Requirements PR-5A, has defined 24 surface vehicle interaction scenarios and established nine levels of vehicle interaction defensive controls, namely: level 1 – site requirements, level 2 – segregation controls, level 3 – operating procedures, level 4 – authority to operate, level 5 – fitness to operate, level 6 – operating compliance, level 7 – operator awareness (proximity awareness – alerts the operator), level 8 – advisory controls (proximity detection – advises the operator) and level 9 – intervention controls (collision avoidance – takes control from the operator). EMESRT has also driven the mining industry development of a standard communications protocol between the proximity detection system (PDS) and OEM machine for the practical implementation of level 9 – intervention controls as part of the standard ISO 21815.

The importance of level 7 – operator awareness and level 9 – intervention controls was highlighted on February 25, 2015 when the South Africa Minister of Mineral Resources signed the Amendment of Chapter 8 of the Mine Health and Safety Act. This legislation makes it necessary to implement a system which provides proximity awareness (level 7) and collision avoidance (level 9), which will automatically apply the brakes to trackless mobile machinery (TMM) without any human intervention at any mine where there is a significant risk of such collisions.

This functionality essentially requires the traditional level 7 PDS to mature to provide full machine interventions of a level 9 collision avoidance system. The final date for implementation is still to be confirmed but the mining industry is targeting late 2020.

The legislation requires that each mining operation conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to determine the risk exposure introduced by TMM. Based on the risk assessment, the mining operation is then able to define a collision management system user requirements specification with regards to CAS required on the TMM fleet.

The need for such measures was underlined when it emerged that fatalities attributable to TMM-related accidents increased nearly 50% from eight in 2016 to 14 in 2017.

Wabtec Digital Mine has been the global provider of a best of breed high integrity level 7 PDS system for the past 14 years and, therefore, was perfectly positioned to take on the journey to progress towards a fully compliant level 9 CAS system. At this level, the PDS automatically applies full intervention controls to the vehicle and takes control from the operator when a dangerous vehicle interaction situation is detected after the operator has failed to respond to the earlier level 7 proximity alerts and level 8 advisory controls.

It is recognised by Wabtec and the mining industry that CAS alone should not be viewed as a ‘silver bullet’ for mitigating the risk of vehicle interactions, as the initial focus should be on maximising the maturity of the more effective mine site defensive controls at levels 1 – 6 and supplemented by PDS/CAS levels 7 – 9 where required. This approach has also been adopted through a new initiative by the International Council on Mining & Minerals (ICMM) as part of the program for ‘Innovation for Cleaner Safer Vehicles’, where the mining industry globally has an ambition at the CEO level to eliminate all fatalities from vehicle interactions in mining by 2025.

The Minerals Council of South Africa is currently coordinating the development and testing of all the CAS suppliers by providing a best practice framework with the aim of fast tracking the industry developments. This work is also being integrated into a new EMESRT initiative to develop a unified, integrated industry PDS testing methodology and validation framework.

Milestones

The first milestone for the CAS supplier is to conduct independent lab scale testing done by the University of Pretoria (UoP) at the Gerotek testing facility, in South Africa. The UoP uses high precision measuring equipment to test and log the performance of the CAS system as is capable of providing a detailed independent report on the capability of the CAS system. The tests provide invaluable insights into the capability of the system and level of technology readiness.

The second milestone, which the Wabtec Digital Mine Collision Awareness System team conducted on an independent machine OEM site, is single and multiple machine testing. These tests were successfully performed, as real-world scenarios were created and tested against. These tests were conducted in dry and wet conditions and to speeds up to 40 km/h.

The third key milestone that the Wabtec team is currently working towards is to conduct single and multiple machine testing on a production mine site. The range of machines being tested include rigid body haul trucks, articulated dump trucks and a rubber-tyred wheel loader, which represent the typical high risk TMM found working on a mine site.

In order to address the significant challenges in achieving a level 9 – compliant CAS system, Wabtec Digital Mine has developed proprietary software algorithms that are able to interpret and anticipate the complex scenarios presented during normal mining operations. This enables the Wabtec systems to operate seamlessly with the operator.

If Wabtec’s experience has shown anything, it’s that proximity detection and collision awareness technology makes for not only a safer, but a more productive mine, thanks to the wealth of data the systems are able to gather, analyse and feed back to the mine operators we support. We remain committed to delivering a world class, Level 9 CAS system to the global mining community.

* “CAS” has been alternately referred to as collision awareness system or collision avoidance system. Wabtec CAS solutions should be understood as collision awareness systems

Booyco intervenes with VDS to prevent vehicle-to-vehicle accidents

Booyco Electronics has added a vehicle detection system (VDS) to its existing proximity detection system portfolio, as it looks to increase safety in both open-pit and underground mining applications.

The new VDS triggers interventions to prevent vehicle-to-vehicle accidents in line with The Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT) guidelines, according to Booyco, and is an evolution of the company’s vehicle-to-vehicle detection system that incorporates the necessary level of accuracy to introduce interventions in the operation of the vehicles.

According to Booyco Electronics Engineer and Developer Frank Schommer, the Booyco VDS is applicable in both surface and underground environments.

The system can measure the distance between the vehicles in a range from 10 m up to 100 m, with a measuring accuracy of 1 m, according to Booyco. It can not only can determine the position of a vehicle but also the direction in which it is travelling, the company added.

Schommer said: “This means that the operator will be informed if another vehicle is close by, as well as the number of vehicles there are in the proximity. Based on a high frequency wave transmission, the new VDS technology has been developed to comply with the latest safety regulations for moving vehicles on mines.”

Booyco said: “While these high frequencies do not penetrate rock in underground mining environments like low frequencies can, they are able to perform the vital duty of detecting other vehicles at a greater distance.

“Like the pedestrian PDS, the Booyco VDS’s functionality is based on different ‘zones’ within the radio field around each vehicle that is created by a transmitter; the distance of each zone from the vehicle can be defined by the customer, depending on their actual conditions and specific vehicles on site.”

Schommer gave an example: “The system can be set so that it delivers a warning to the operators at a distance of 50 m. If no action is taken after that warning, and the distance between the vehicles is reduced, then a second zone is entered, and a command is generated for the operator to reduce speed. If speed is not reduced and the vehicles continue to get closer to each other, an intervention is triggered by the system to slow the vehicles down.”

The accuracy of the system ensures there is enough reaction time after warnings are given for the operator to act, reducing the possibility of a collision, according to Booyco.

While the system caters for larger vehicles with longer distances between them – such as surface mining load and haul operations – it is also applicable underground as it can measure long distances between machines through tunnels.

Booyco Electronics’ PDS system – based on very low frequency wave transmission – can, meanwhile, penetrate tunnel sidewalls underground, allowing the detection of pedestrians who are out of sight around a corner, but over shorter distances.

Schommer concluded: “It is therefore optimal to use the VDS and PDS systems together on the same vehicle to achieve higher levels of safety. Combining these technologies allows mines to improve safety between vehicles – where the distances to be measured are longer – as well as between vehicles and pedestrians – where it is important to detect workers who are closer but not visible to the operators.”