Tag Archives: mine safety

GroundProbe reflects on geohazard monitoring developments on 20th anniversary

GroundProbe says it is immensely proud to be celebrating 20 years of operation and 20 years of keeping people and communities safe.

Over the last two decades, the company has expanded from a home-grown start-up to become a global innovation powerhouse and the trusted partner of companies around the world, it said.

GroundProbe calls itself a global leader in real-time geohazard monitoring technologies that help manage risk, ensure safety and increase productivity across mining and civil projects. Evolving from a PhD project at the University of Queensland, Australia, in 1993, by 2001, GroundProbe’s founders commercialised the world’s first patented Slope Stability Radar (SSR), which is now widely used to monitor mine walls and warn before collapses occur.

GroundProbe CEO and founder, David Noon, said that the success of GroundProbe’s business and its continual year-on-year growth is built on a culture of innovation and customer intimacy that permeates through every level of the company.

“GroundProbe has now deployed more than 700 systems and support services to customers in more than 35 countries,” he said. “To get to that level, we have proudly built long-term, trusted relationships with the top 20 mining and resources companies, globally.

“Across all of those deployed radars and customers, and in our entire 20-year history, I am most proud to say that we have fulfilled our ultimate goal by making mining safer. Our technology has never failed to detect a collapse, ultimately saving numerous lives.”

Anglo American’s Head of Geotechnical – T&S Group Mining, Lesley Munsamy, recently stated that the company is honoured to have played a part in GroundProbe’s history. The miner celebrated a number of “firsts” with GroundProbe, with the capturing of the first ever slope deformation data, the detection of the first ever slope failure and the first international radar deployment at Anglo American mine sites, GroundProbe said.

“Our mutually-beneficial partnership is based on GroundProbe’s impeccable safety track record and continuous innovation of its hardware and software tools,” Munsamy said. “The precise and valuable data that GroundProbe provides our sites has had an impact on our safety and productivity by enhancing our risk-management practices.

“GroundProbe redefined the slope risk management practices across the world. The availability of reliable real-time monitoring has had a significant impact on safety, a contribution that cannot be underestimated.”

Axora survey reveals mining sector moves towards digital transformation

Axora, the digital solutions marketplace for industrial innovators, has published a new report into digital trends and key growth drivers in the global metals and mining industry, with digital transformation and innovation highlighted as crucial elements to meeting the rising demand from the energy transition.

The ‘Axora 2021 Innovation Forecast: Metals and Mining’ is based on a survey of 150 senior decision makers worldwide, as well as interviews with small and large operators alike. The findings indicate that the metals and mining sector is driving forward with digital transformation but there is still more to be done ahead of the energy transition, Axora says.

“There’s been a dramatic shift in how metals and mining companies perceive digital transformation,” Ritz Steytler, CEO, Axora, says. “As the sector emerges after a period of uncertainty, firms are realising the need for a more coordinated and strategic approach to ensure they deploy the right technologies, in the right places, at the right time.”

The key highlights of the research include the opinion that digital transformation and innovation are seen as crucial to meeting the rising demand from the energy transition:

  • Ninety-nine percent of decision makers now believe technology and innovation are critical to their organisation’s survival;
  • Ninety-four percent of respondents said their deployments were advanced or intermediate;
  • Those in North America, the UK and South America saw themselves as most advanced, whereas South Africa saw itself as least advanced; and
  • The biggest barriers to executing digital transformation were cybersecurity concerns (42% of respondents) and lack of IT infrastructure to handle data from digital solutions (38%).

Achieving more with less and improving working environments were popular reasons for deploying digital solutions, according to the survey, which highlighted that:

  • There’s more focus on using technology to boost direct productivity, foster a better working environment and improve return on investment than to prevent downtime;
  • Companies are taking a longer-term view when it comes to cost savings from digital transformation. In the next two years, 24% of respondents anticipate saving 1-5% from digital technology. Within five years, just 3% of respondents anticipate that level of savings, with most predicting 11-15%; and
  • More than three-quarters of respondents prioritised the value of digital technology over its cost.

Tech-wise, companies have focused on analytics and semi-autonomous equipment, with:

  • Seventy-three percent of respondents saying these had been deployed to some extent; and
  • Semi-autonomous equipment was most likely to be 100% deployed across the organisation.

Application-wise, there’s been emphasis on remote operations and automation, according to the survey, with:

  • Seventy-three percent of organisations having deployed remote operations technology;
  • Driver fatigue monitoring was the application most likely to have been deployed across 100% of the organisation; and
  • Seventy-two percent of respondents said their company had implemented a Remote Operations Centre, with a further 15% saying they’re planning to do so in the next year.

There are clear regional trends for technologies, Axora says, with, Russia and Kazakhstand expected to focus extensively on robotics in the next year. Over this same timeframe, Australia will focus on artificial intelligence (AI), with the UK-based companies focused on cloud-based platforms. North America, like Australia, is also focused on machine learning.

In the next five years, Russia is expected to gain a major focus on robotics as well as advanced analytics and sensors, North America on IIoT and the UK-based firms on autonomous haulage technology.

The survey uncovered that AI is seen as the main growth driver, with 57% of decision makers saying their organisation had deployed AI to some extent and 59% of respondents ranking it first for growth potential in the next year (followed by robotics with 45%).

“The focus on AI is particularly marked in Australia and the UK,” Axora says. “Although Russia and Kazakhstan are least likely to see it as a growth driver in the next 12 months, they predict a major push in the next three to five years.”

In contrast to popular opinion, the top drive for digital transformation is not safety, according to the survey, with respondents citing people safety as the third highest business priority over the next five years.

In the next two years, mid-sized companies are most likely to see people safety as a key business priority. In the next five years, small companies have the greatest focus on it, according to the survey responses.

One of the last findings to come out of the survey was companies need support to succeed with digital transformation, with:

  • Eighty-two percent of respondents saying a partner had the biggest influence on their digital technology adoption, with the preference being for generic rather than industry-specific ones;
  • Mid-sized companies, those in North America and senior site managers most likely suffering from digitalisation information overload; and
  • Ninety-nine percent saying they would benefit from a digital transformation community where they could learn from peers’ experiences with different technologies and applications.

Joe Carr, Industry Innovation Director, Metals and Mining, Axora, concluded: “The metals and mining sector has made huge progress and is forging ahead with digital transformation with clear regional trends in place. However, there are still opportunities to benefit further through partnerships and by looking more closely at the safety side for opportunities to revolutionise standard ways of working and accelerate the move towards zero harm.”

GMG tackles mine automation safety in latest whitepaper

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has published the System Safety for Autonomous Mining white paper as it looks to provide a comprehensive view of the need for a “system safety approach” for mining companies deploying and using autonomous systems.

It also aims to increase awareness of the system safety and its benefits by providing education and context on safety management and the system safety lifecycle, the purpose and typical contents of a safety case, the significance of human-systems integration, and factors that influence software safety management, GMG says.

The white paper intends to addresses the use of autonomous systems within the mining industry, both surface and underground. It applies to all autonomous machines and to the integration of autonomous and semi-autonomous machines with manually-operated machines, as well as to complex integrated systems of systems across the mining industry. While it was developed with a focus on autonomous systems, most of the information is general and is also relevant to manual operations, GMG says.

Explaining the paper, GMG said: “System safety is a view of safety that extends beyond the machines to consider the complete system (ie machines, human factors, and environment, and the interfaces between these). The goal of system safety is to reduce risks associated with hazards to safety. It is a planned, disciplined and systematic approach to identifying, analysing, eliminating, and controlling hazards by analysis, design and management procedures throughout a system’s lifecycle. System safety activities start in the earliest concept development stages of a project and continue through design, development, testing, operational use and disposal.”

Chirag Sathe, Project Co-Leader and Principal Mining Systems at BHP, says: “With an ever-increasing use of technology in mining, particularly in surface mining equipment, it is important to understand the overall impact of systems implementation on safety. I hope the white paper helps to increase the awareness of this important emerging topic in mine safety, not only within mining companies but also for OEMs, technology developers and implementors.”

On the role of industry collaboration both in the development and intended use of this white paper, Project Co-Leader, Gareth Topham, says: “The white paper demonstrates that the mining community continues to see the benefit in collaborating to ensure the introduction and the ongoing operation of autonomous mobile equipment is done in a safe environment. It will enable discussions between all parties to pursue opportunities to improve the level of risk to safety by addressing the topics that are contained in the paper and improving on the communication that delivers a more holistic understanding of these systems. “

On the importance of this topic from an OEM perspective, Michael Lewis, Technical Director at Komatsu, says: “The adoption of autonomous systems in mining has been growing rapidly since the first Komatsu autonomous trucks entered into production in 2008 and it’s been exciting to support our customers as they expand use of autonomous systems. Safety has always been the top priority for our industry, and as the use of autonomy grows to cover more of the mining value chain it’s important that we look at the whole system it impacts.

“I applaud the truly collaborative work between mine operators, OEMs and other GMG members in the creation of this white paper,” Lewis adds.

As only an introduction to the topic, there will likely be future work to provide more complete guidance on applying system safety to autonomous systems in mining.

Andrew Scott, GMG Vice-Chair Working Groups and National Cluster Development Manager at METS Ignited, says: “GMG, as an industry-led organisation, is proud to have had the opportunity to facilitate this work with the global mining community. I look forward to the discussion this white paper will spark as well as further collaboration on the topic.

“I would like to thank all who provided their input and support.”

Dropsafe boosts dropped object prevention protection with updated Net

Dropsafe has launched a new upgraded version of its steel wire mesh Net, adding an enhanced layer of security and traceability to this piece of safety equipment, it says.

The new range of Nets is a game changer for operators in industries such as oil and gas, power generation and mining, enabling them to further reduce the risk of human error, according to the company.

“Safety securing” is a vital aspect of dropped object prevention programs on industrial facilities globally, Dropsafe says.

“At these sites, fixtures such as lights and cameras may loosen due to corrosion or impacts, then fall and strike personnel or equipment,” the company said.

Drops prevention nets enclose and tether objects at height to a secure attachment point, mitigating these drops risks and the threats they pose to personnel, equipment, finances and reputation.

Dropsafe Nets have been supplied to over 300 leading energy businesses worldwide and, the company says, have now become the accepted best practice method for secondary securing in diverse industrial sectors. Feedback from these users directly informed the new Net design. This retains all the core features – including stainless-steel construction, a wide range of sizes and tool-free installation – while building in an extra level of security.

A particular focus of the R&D program was the carabiner, a standard component accepted as a matter of course in many industries. Dropsafe found room for improvement, however, particularly as standard carabiners may not be specifically designed for the unique technical and usability requirements of drops prevention or use in harsh operational environments.

This critical approach resulted in the design of the Trisafe™ Carabiner, a reimagined carabiner that, Dropsafe says, provides extra security with its “triple action” mechanism to prevent accidental opening.

Restricted dexterity is another key challenge Dropsafe confronted with the update. To support personnel in the installation of secondary securing solutions, the Trisafe Carabiner incorporates an auto-locking spring to enable easy one-handed use and significantly reduce human error, even in cold, wet and windy conditions.

Best practice drops prevention increasingly makes extensive use of data-based safety management systems to track and authenticate solutions. To future proof operators’ investments, the new Dropsafe Net includes an updated Choke Plate with an embedded RFID chip. This digital integration provides safety teams with increased visibility of their Nets, enabling installations and inspections to be logged and verified digitally.

Mike Rice, Dropsafe Commercial Director, said: “At Dropsafe, our culture is to look critically at accepted best practice, as this can lead to game-changing innovations with wide-ranging applications. At the same time, we recognised the need to retain the quality and long-term cost-effectiveness which made the Dropsafe Net an industry leading solution.

“By reimagining the carabiner for harsh industrial environments, we were able to build in extra safety and useability at no additional cost to the customer. With the RFID tag, we are giving users the means to make significant efficiency gains in the deployment and maintenance of their essential safety assets.”

HARD-LINE readies Auto RockBreaker, TeleOp Assist and Brow Alert for MINExpo crowd

HARD-LINE plans to unveil a diverse line-up of new mining products geared towards automation and safety at MINExpo 2021 next month.

The company’s Auto RockBreaker, TeleOp Assist and Brow Alert will be just some of the company’s booth highlights from September 13-15, in Las Vegas.

HARD-LINE’s Auto Rockbreaker is going to “disrupt” the mining industry, according to the company.

“For the first time ever, operators will have the ability to automate many rockbreaking tasks” HARD-LINE said. “With Auto Rockbreaker, mining companies will be able to reduce maintenance and operator training costs, decrease wear and tear while extending the life of all rockbreakers.”

The system has many functions, including auto deploy and auto park, as well as other features making the operator experience that much more intuitive with its 3D User Interface, it said.

TeleOp Assist is the latest addition to the company’s TeleOp suite, which equips the base TeleOp system with intelligent steering assistance and collision detection to keep machines off walls while driving.

Using real-time 3D LiDAR scans, Assist will automatically steer to handle the articulation adjustments required to keep the machine as centred as possible within the drift, the company said.

“With Assist’s adaptive technology, a pre-scan of the drift is not required – providing significant cost savings,” HARD-LINE said. “The system does not require any training when moving from one level to another.”

Brow Alert, meanwhile, is an added level of protection for underground mining operations.

It serves as an add-on system designed to deter an operator from manually driving a vehicle past the brow line of a stope by using sensors and modules.

The system is easy to install, reduces risk of workplace injuries and fatalities, encourages accountability and keeps operators a safe distance from the brow, the company says.

Auto RockBreaker, TeleOp Assist and Brow Alert will be joined by the likes of RRC (Radio Remote Control), TeleOp system, vehicle conversion kits (drive-by-wire), and HARD-LINE’s low-profile loader series (LP401 and LP301) on the company’s MINExpo booth.

Nordgold and DuPont Sustainable Solutions to develop safety improvement roadmap

Nordgold says it will develop a safety improvement roadmap for its mining operations with DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS).

The gold miner has invited DSS, an operations management consulting firm, to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the safety culture of the company’s operations, it said.

The project is a part of Nordgold’s global Technical Excellence program, aimed at improving processes, systems and employee skills to successfully align them with the industry best practices throughout the entire value chain, including ESG processes.

The assessment will cover all mines and include documentation reviews, interviews, field visits and focus groups.

DSS is to support Nordgold’s leadership in developing a three-year safety improvement roadmap and health, safety and environmental competency model, to deliver a sustained risk reduction and improved safety performance of more than 8,000 Nordgold employees and contractors.

In 2020, Nordgold says it achieved zero employee fatalities and decreased its LTIFR to 0.14.

Nikolai Zelenski, Nordgold CEO, said: “Safety remains at the core of everything we do and this partnership is a pragmatic example of our commitment towards achieving zero harm for our people.”

Epiroc makes significant safety stride with RCS Collision Avoidance System interface

Epiroc says it recently launched an offering that aims to support safety in underground mining environments with the RCS based Collision Avoidance System (CAS) interface.

Proximity Detection System (PDS) suppliers, compliant to the ISO 21815-2 Draft (March 2018), are able to interface with Epiroc RCS Materials Handling TMM (Trackless Mobile Machinery) to enable functionality for slowing and stopping, in what the PDS perceives to be a hazardous or unwanted event, Epiroc explains.

The interface allows for third-party systems to communicate with Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, in a completely new way, Epiroc claims. This enables a third-party PDS added to the vehicle, when needed, to take interventional control of the machine and prevent accidents.

The CAS Interface, when coupled with a PDS, helps to detect objects in the collision risk area, evaluate the collision risk level and take interventional actions to avoid the potential collision, the company says. The system works on the understanding that all machines and all personnel in the mine are equipped with tags or sensors.

“A CAS installation is intended to assist with operator perception of potential hazards around the machine and prevention of potential incidents where operators cannot respond in time, however the overall responsibility for safe operation of the machine remains with the operator,” Epiroc said.

Daniel Sandström, Global Product Manager-Minetruck, in Epiroc’s Underground division, said: “With safety first and always in mind, I am proud to see the release of the Collision Avoidance System interface. This improves safety underground in a ground-breaking way.”

The CAS interface, which is now available for the complete Epiroc RCS Loader fleet as well as for Minetruck MT42 and soon thereafter for the Minetruck MT65, has been tested by customers, who have been pleased with the performance and functionality, Epiroc said.

Kumeshan Naidu, Integration Manager M&A, at Epiroc’s Technology and Digital division, said: “The Epiroc RCS CAS interface performed as designed, demonstrating high consistency in the cases where the PDS provided reliable input signals.

“The CAS initiative is not a ‘plug and play’ solution and must be tailored, with the participation of all parties to suite a particular site. Change management and risk mitigation strategies on these sites are key when implementing the system.”

Moving forward, Naidu can see further potential: “Solutions like Mobilaris On-Board can augment a mine’s efforts to ensure safety, as well as create a more ‘natural’ state of awareness that underground TMM operators can respond to. With an interface that is more familiar to the operator, who typically drives commercial vehicles (GPS, Waze, Google Maps), their reflex is to naturally avoid a potential unwanted event from occurring. An operator or pedestrian that is equipped with real-time information about their surroundings, through systems like Mobilaris’ MMI, On-board and Pocket Mine, will be better suited to promote a safe working environment; one in which the CAS slow down and stop functionality is a last resort in preventing collision events.”

Epiroc is part of the ISO standard working group where new standards are being developed. It is also participating in the International Council for Mining and Metals (ICMM) initiative for Vehicle Interaction.

Epiroc intends to change the interface from supporting ISO 21815-2 Draft March 2018 to further supporting the final version of ISO 21815-2 within a year of ISO 21815-2 being released.

De Beers to boost southern Africa safety performance with advanced driver assistance systems

De Beers Group says it is rolling out the use of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) across its operations in southern African, following two phases that saw the technology installed on buses and any vehicles that carry four or more people.

The world’s leading diamond producer places “Putting Safety First Everywhere” as its number one value and has been fatality-free for the past two years, according to Dr Urishanie Govender, De Beers Group Head of Safety and Sustainable Development.

“The application of ADAS aligns with our culture of pioneering brilliance as we equip our operations for FutureSmart Mining,” Dr Govender says. “This exciting initiative has provided another valuable tool for our amazing people on site who are constantly looking for ways to improve our safety performance.”

She highlights that the intervention contributes to the De Beers Group’s critical control management, one of the areas for advancement identified at the company’s regular safety summits.

“Driven by the chief executive officers across the group, the specific focus areas are Competence, Culture, Connectedness, and Cultivating Care to enable everyone to be Ready to Respond to Risks,” she said.

Head of Asset Strategy and Reliability at De Beers Group, Meshal Ruplal, says the first phase of the ADAS initiative saw the technology being installed on buses and any vehicles that carry five or more people. In a second phase, vehicles with four passengers were fitted with the equipment. The technology comprises a range of functionality, including cameras to monitor “harsh and distracted driving”, the company said.

“The camera software can also check on the driver’s eyelid movements and other indicators of drowsiness, and can transmit short video clips to a control room for improved monitoring,” Ruplal says. “It can register infringements like changing lanes without indicating, or crossing a solid barrier line.”

The technology – which has been proven in the trucking industry abroad – assists the driver by checking if there is a safe distance to the vehicle in front, recognising speed limit signs and detecting whether the seat belt is being worn.

“ADAS makes an important contribution to our coaching and training activities, as the data we gather is fed back to drivers to continuously improve their performance,” Ruplal says. “Used as a proactive warning system, the technology has generally received good support from drivers and their trade unions.”

He notes that De Beers Group’s contractors – who assume much of the company’s staff transportation function – have been quick to come on board and align with the ever more stringent safety standards.

From compliance to commitment: a key opportunity for the global mining industry

In the lead up to the AusIMM Underground Operators Conference in March, Roy Slack, immediate past President of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) and Underground Operators keynote speaker, has shared his insights on the future of underground mining and the positive impact technology can have on safety.

With 35 years of global experience in mine construction, design and development, Slack is passionate about securing the mining industry’s place as a global leader for change.

“Our industry is on a journey from compliance to commitment,” he said. “From a state where we strive to just meet regulatory requirements, to a place where we meet and far surpass those requirements – not because we are legally required to do so, but because it is a moral imperative.”

Slack discusses how young professionals have an exciting opportunity to build the future of underground mining.

“Today’s youth are entering the industry, or have the opportunity to enter our industry, at a time of great change,” he said. “Change in technology, change in how we deal with people, change in the overall business model that is mining.”

As the mining industry rapidly transforms with new technologies and exciting innovations, Slack believes the whole sector needs to get on board with a fresh way of thinking.

“We need people that thrive on change, that embrace and know what to do with it.”

After such a challenging year, Slack is confident in the resiliency of the mining industry.

“What we continue to see during this pandemic is our industry recognised as an essential service, and mining companies taking the lead when it comes to establishing protocols to protect their people from the virus,” he said.

The industry’s reaction to COVID-19 displayed its agility in adjusting to circumstances, Slack says.

“Productivity did not suffer, and employees were able to better deal with work and home needs.”

Slack has been active in numerous safety initiatives over the years, as well as being appointed to the Province of Ontario’s first Prevention Council, advising the government on workplace safety. He also chairs the CIM Safety Committee.

He says new technologies will create a real sense of support and safety in the workplace for all professionals.

“I am excited about the huge potential of emerging technologies to make our workplaces not just safer, but safe,” he said. “Technology has always been an important part of safety, but the more recent applications of the technology available to us add a whole new perspective on our journey to zero injuries.”

Slack looks forward to the positive and safer benefits technology can create for on-site workers, with the pandemic in some cases speeding up the implementation of automation, remote operations and more.

Ultimately, Slack sees best practice in safety as a three-part equation: “Process, culture and technology; together protecting our people and ultimately achieving a safe workplace,” he said.

AusIMM’s Underground Operators Conference will be held from March 15-17, 2021, via a hybrid format, which offers an opportunity for delegates to attend face-to-face in Perth, Australia or online.

Find out more at https://www.ausimm.com/conferences-and-events/underground-operators

International Mining is a media sponsor of the event

Impairment Science launches new impairment monitoring tool

Impairment Science Inc has released a new tool that could help mining companies test whether employees are unimpaired and, therefore, fit for duty.

Druid Enterprise embeds the Druid impairment app into a cloud-based management portal for business managers to monitor and analyse employees’ Druid tests and flag individuals who may be impaired.

ISI’s goal is to help employers create a ‘culture of safety’ in the workplace, particularly in the construction, manufacturing, mining, and transportation industries, it said.

“Druid assesses performance impairment due to any cause, including marijuana, opioids, prescription medicines, illicit drugs, alcohol, fatigue, illness, chronic health conditions, or injury, such as concussion,” the company said. “Grounded in neuroscience research on impairment, the app requires users to perform four game-like tasks that measure reaction time, decision-making accuracy, hand-eye coordination, time estimation, balance, and the ability to perform divided-attention tasks.”

All four tasks can be completed in under three minutes, with the app collecting and integrating hundreds of measurements during that time to produce an overall impairment score.

“Through Druid Enterprise, employees’ impairment scores can be viewed individually or collectively by score range, age range, gender, or workgroup (production, distribution, sales, administration, etc), either for a specific date or over a period of time (by week, month, days of the week, etc),” the company said. “Graphical displays draw attention to higher scores or a pattern of scores that may indicate impairment and thus warrant further examination.”

Dr Michael Milburn, Druid’s inventor and ISI’s founder, said: “Researchers at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the University of Colorado and Washington State University have confirmed Druid’s accuracy and sensitivity. Druid is the only impairment measurement tool that is quick, portable, objective, accurate, sensitive, and inexpensive, and that’s why it’s now being used by several other high-profile researchers who study impairment.”

The first Druid Enterprise pilot was conducted at a large Canadian underground mine, according to CEO Rob Schiller.

“This collaboration allowed us to finetune the app’s enterprise capabilities to deliver the kinds of data presentations that management could use in real time to protect their workers’ safety on the job,” he said.

The mine subsequently licensed Druid Enterprise, and that set the stage for ISI to initiate several other pilot programs in mining and manufacturing companies.

Alongside the Druid Enterprise launch, Impairment Science also released a new version of the Druid impairment app for personal use to improve user experience. This update improves accuracy, clarifies instructions, and provides additional ways for users to interpret their performance scores, according to the company.