Tag Archives: proximity detection

Miners can leverage Booyco PDS for wholesale safety improvements, Lourens says

Centralising information from its proximity detection system (PDS) hardware and monitoring devices, Booyco Electronics says it offers mines a rare opportunity to become both safer and more productive.

According to Anton Lourens, CEO of proximity detection solutions focused Booyco Electronics, a single source of information on the mine’s assets is the key to enhancing operations by identifying patterns of unsafe behaviour.

“Our Booyco Electronics Asset Management System (BEAMS) is essentially a central information hub for the mine’s PDS assets,” Lourens says. “The software suite is a web-based application used on a robust database, linking the PDS hardware products and the monitoring devices.”

This provides a single source of data that can be leveraged for greater insight into relevant aspects of the mining operation – raising the level of safety and productivity in the workplace.

“The real achievement of BEAMS is that it allows the data from our Booyco CWS, Booyco PDS or Booyco CXS to be analysed for patterns which indicate unsafe behaviour,” Lourens says. “Customers can then design an appropriate intervention to prevent any further occurrences.”

This allows a mine to paint a complete picture of the working environment, shedding new light on operational issues previously not visible, Lourens said. Measuring the working environment and interactions in this way means risks and bottlenecks can be actively reduced and managed – boosting productivity as a result. This helps to give mines an in-depth view of the operation and the performance of their related assets.

“We have engineered BEAMS for easy implementation,” Lourens says. “It can be used on web browser platforms, and is designed to be adaptable to the information and infrastructure environment.”

BEAMS can also integrate with the lamp room management systems in underground mines, ensuring legal compliance with lamp room requirements. It helps mines locate its safety equipment, such as lamps, self-contained self-rescuers and gas instrumentation.

“BEAMS can be set up to suit the needs of each user,” Lourens says. “It can generate a standard set of reports, or be customised to specific requirements.”

Barrick continues to adopt new technologies at Kibali gold mine

Barrick Gold says its 45%-owned Kibali gold mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is continuing its technological advances with the introduction of truck and drill training simulators and the integration of systems for personnel safety tracking and ventilation on demand.

The mine, which is owned 45% by AngloGold Ashanti and 10% by SOKIMO, surpassed its 2019 guidance of 750,000 oz in 2019, delivering 814,027 oz in another record year, Barrick said this week.

Barrick President and Chief Executive, Mark Bristow, told a media briefing that Kibali’s continuing stellar performance was a demonstration of how a modern, Tier One gold mine could be developed and operated successfully in what is one of the world’s most remote and infrastructurally under-endowed regions.

He also noted that, in line with Barrick’s policy of employing, training and advancing locals, the mine was managed by a majority Congolese team, supported by a corps of majority Congolese supervisors and personnel.

Kibali is already one of the world’s most highly automated underground gold mines, with the operation’s backbone being Sandvik’s Automine Multi Fleet system, supervised on surface by a single operator. In a world first, it allows a fleet of up to five LHDs to be operated autonomously, 750 m below the surface, within the same 6 m x 6 m production drive while using designated passing bays to maintain traffic flow, the company says. A similar system is used in the production levels to feed the ore passes, according to Barrick.

The company said it had now introduced truck and drill training simulators and integrated systems for personnel safety tracking and ventilation demand control, adding that the simulators will also be used to train operators from Barrick’s Tanzanian mines.

Bristow also said that the company was maintaining a strong focus on energy efficiency at the mine through the development of its grid stabiliser project, scheduled for commissioning in the June quarter of 2020.

He said: “This uses new battery technology to offset the need for running diesel generators as a spinning reserve and ensures we maximise the use of renewable hydro power. The installation of three new elution diesel heaters will also help improve efficiencies and control power costs. It’s worth noting that our clean energy strategy not only achieves cost and efficiency benefits but also once again reduces Kibali’s environmental footprint.”

Bristow said despite the pace of production and the size and complexity of the mine, Kibali was maintaining its solid safety and environmental records, certified by ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 accreditations.

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.”

Strata Worldwide enhances personnel tracking in underground mines

Strata Worldwide has released the StrataConnect™ second-generation miner communicator (MC2) as it looks to improve communication with and tracking of personnel in underground mines and tunnelling sites.

The MC2 device operates on the underground StrataConnect wireless mesh network, formally known as Strata CommTrac.

Strata said: “Designed specifically for the harsh environments in the mining and tunnelling industries, the Strata MC2 provides two-way text communications, real-time personnel location tracking and both critical alerts and response functions for workers.

“Its comprehensive physical redesign and enhancements were geared towards simplifying usability and expanding device functionality.”

Modeled after today’s smartphones, the MC2 has a full, hard-button QWERTY keyboard, a large display screen with multiple character sizes, and an easy-to-navigate operating system, according to Strata.

Its features include one-on-one or group text messaging, the ability to access a full, automatically updating contact list, data storage for up to 500 messages and a rechargeable battery that lasts through multiple shifts. MC2 also provides critical alerts and response capabilities for workers in the event of an emergency, has an audible alarm that ensures miners know when a message has been received and comes equipped with clearly distinguishable emergency messages that allows miners to easily respond with their condition, the company said.

Strata Worldwide ready for another HazardAvert first

Strata Worldwide is building on its Australia-first application of proximity detection on underground shuttle cars in a Queensland coal mine and expects to see the same mine install and commission a vehicle-to-vehicle interaction component within the next 12-18 months.

Strata said earlier this month that, as a proactive safety measure, one of the world’s leading mining companies had been undergoing extensive research on Strata’s HazardAvert® proximity detection technology. The mining client and Strata Worldwide worked together to test and trial the technology in underground coal mining environments, with the miner’s primary goal being to reduce the potential risks to people working in close proximity to mobile equipment.

HazardAvert proximity detection field generators, installed on equipment, form electromagnetic warning and danger zones around the machinery, according to Strata Worldwide. These zones are detected by the HazardAvert Personal Alarm Devices installed on miner cap lamps or worn on the miners’ belt. When the zones are breached, either by a miner entering the zone or by the shuttle car approaching a miner, the system alarms and alerts both parties. To overcome situations where reaction time is limited, the system can be interfaced into the controls of the equipment to automatically slow or stop the machinery, the company added.

Proximity detection has been used on shuttle cars in the US and South Africa for a good few years as regulators in those regions mandated the use of the technology. This Queensland installation is the first approved system to be introduced in an Australia coal production scenario, however.

At the AIMEX 2019 event, Paul Mullins, Global Product Manager for Strata, provided IM with some more detail on this recent project win, which was the culmination of two years of due diligence work at the mine. Over this period, underground shuttle cars were fitted with the proximity detection technology required as they were brought in for overhaul, allowing the mine to keep up with its coal production targets.

The physical installation of the proximity detection system was undertaken at Komatsu’s Rockhampton facility, in Queensland. Komatsu worked with both Strata and representatives from the mine operation to re-design the control system of the shuttle cars to ensure the system effectively integrated with the machine, according to Komatsu.

“In doing so, Komatsu were able to ensure the shuttle car automatically functioned in the manner requested by the mine operation, in the event the proximity detection system alerted the presence of mine personnel,” Komatsu said.

The machine was designed to slow down when miner personnel entered a ‘warning zone’ and stop in the event mine personnel became too close to the shuttle car and entered the ‘stop’ zone.

Komatsu and Strata both worked with the mining operation over the two year period to ensure the relevant hazards were understood and controlled, which has led to incremental improvements being made to the integrated system throughout the trial period.

Strata’s Mullins said the system had been running in sections at the mine since the start of this year, with 40-50 people now equipped with HazardAvert Caplamps. The mine in operation has four production crews, with two of these crews currently using the vehicle-to-personnel proximity system, he said.

By the end of the year, Mullins is expecting all shuttle cars, personnel and continuous miners at the operation to be equipped with the technology. He then expects the mine to move towards vehicle-to-vehicle interaction, which involves adding proximity detection to LHDs at the mine, within the next 12-18 months.

Vehicle-to-vehicle interaction would be a global first in underground coal mining environments.

This is not all for Strata Worldwide, with Mullins saying the company is currently working with other coal mining companies in Queensland on similar proximity detection projects.

Strata Worldwide also used the AIMEX 2019 event to unveil its DigitalBRIDGE Plus+ solution to improve existing leaky feeder systems by “digitising the network and expanding connectivity capacity in the mining and tunnelling industries”.

The solution, produced through an established partnership with Australia-based RFI Technology Solutions, enables mines to upgrade their existing leaky feeder systems to achieve digital high-speed Ethernet capabilities without losing VHF (Very High Frequency) voice communications, according to Strata.

Strata Worldwide achieves HazardAvert proximity detection first in Australia

Strata Worldwide says it has accomplished the first ever application of proximity detection on underground shuttle cars in an Australia coal mine.

As a proactive safety measure, one of the world’s leading mining companies has been undergoing extensive research on Strata’s HazardAvert® proximity detection technology. The mining client and Strata Worldwide have been working together to test and trial the technology in both surface and underground coal mining environments, with the company’s primary goal being to reduce the potential risks to people working in close proximity to mobile equipment.

HazardAvert proximity detection system generators, installed on equipment, form electromagnetic warning and danger zones around the machinery, Strata Worldwide explains. These zones are detected by the HazardAvert Personal Alarm Devices installed into the miner cap lamps or worn on the miners’ belt. When the zones are breached, either by a miner entering the zone, or by the shuttle car approaching a miner, the system alarms and alerts both parties. To overcome situations where reaction time is limited, the system can be interfaced into the controls of the equipment to automatically slow or stop the machinery, the company added.

Following a year of successful surface trials, the mine in question elected to take the technology underground at one of its coal mining operations in central Queensland. Over a six-month trial period, HazardAvert was fitted on two shuttle cars and incorporated into 30 miner cap lamps and used in production on selected development shifts, Strata Worldwide said.

“The mine reported encouraging results and the technology was well received by mining operators,” the company said. “The operation is now eager to expand the trial of the technology into further production panels and outfit the mine’s entire fleet of shuttle cars. This success marks the first Australian underground coal mine to utilise proximity detection technology on shuttle cars in production.”

The company is also considering a test of the systems on other mobile equipment, including personnel transporters, LHDs, shield haulers and a selection of surface equipment.

The head of project execution at the mine site commented that keeping its people safe is always its highest priority, so implementing this technology is a huge step forward in the future of underground mine safety. He continued by saying that the solution opens up the opportunity to use the technology across multiple pieces of mobile equipment and, if implemented correctly, can impact human behaviours in a positive way.

In a separate blog post back in May, BHP Mitsubishi Alliance said it had achieved an “Australia coal first” with a shuttle car proximity detection trial at its Broadmeadow coal mine, in Queensland.

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.”

Miner fatalities dropped in 2018, ICMM says

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) recently released the 2018 safety data of its company members, which showed the industry suffered 50 fatalities last year.

“ICMM and its members are committed to strengthening health and safety performance and reducing operational fatalities to zero,” the ICMM said. As part of this commitment, ICMM publishes an annual safety data report of its company members. The full report, Benchmarking 2018 Safety Data: Progress of ICMM Members, is available here.

The 2018 safety data report, which collates the safety data of around 1 million workers and contractors, recorded 50 fatalities in 2018. This was a decrease from 51 fatalities in 2017 and 63 fatalities in 2016, the ICMM said.

Eleven of ICMM’s 27 company members reported no fatalities in 2018, compared with eight in 2017. These were: Africa Rainbow Minerals, Barrick, Freeport McMoRan, Goldcorp, JX Nippon, Minera San Cristóbal, Minsur, Mitsubishi Materials, Newcrest, Orano and Sumitomo.

The number of hours worked across ICMM’s members increased by 16% due to data being included from new company members, Minera San Cristóbal, Minsur, Newcrest and Vale, the ICMM said. While total fatalities dropped by 2%, the fatality frequency rate dropped 19% from 0.027 to 0.022 fatalities per million hours worked, the council said.

There was also a drop in the injury rate from 3.94 in 2017 to 3.41, despite an increase in the number of recordable injuries from 7,515 to 7,751.

Tom Butler, ICMM’s CEO (pictured), said: “ICMM and our company members are determined to eliminate fatalities from their operations. The single highest cause of deaths in 2018 was from mobile mining equipment which is why we are exploring collision avoidance technology in our Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles programme.”

The report findings include:

  • One fewer fatality recorded in 2018 compared with 2017;
  • Eleven member companies recorded no fatalities in 2017, an increase from eight in 2017;
  • Fifteen fatalities (30%) were caused by transportation/mobile equipment, four higher than the 11 fatalities recorded in 2017;
  • Nine fatalities (18%) were caused by fall of ground in underground mines, eight fewer than the 17 in 2017;
  • In the six years of safety data published by ICMM, fatalities have dropped from 90 in 2012 to 50 in 2018 and, in this time, the fatality frequency rate has dropped by 33% to 0.022 deaths per million hours worked;
  • Total recordable injuries increased from 7,715 to 7,751 although the frequency rate reduced from 3.94 to 3.41 recordable injuries per million hours worked, and;
  • Since 2012, total recordable injuries have dropped from 13,895 to 7,751 and the total recordable injury frequency rate has dropped by 33%.

The report also examines incidents by country. The highest number of fatalities (14) occurred in South Africa, where 400 million hours were worked. There were six fatalities in Chile and Ghana where respectively 281 million and 51 million hours were worked.

The highest fatality frequency rates were recorded in Hungary, Spain and Laos which each recorded a single fatality, the ICMM said.

This benchmarking report provides the safety data from ICMM companies for 2018 and does not include fatalities from the Brumadinho tragedy that occurred in January 2019.

Hindustan Zinc after improved safety, productivity with Epiroc’s Mobilaris solution

Hindustan Zinc, India’s only zinc-lead-silver producer, has selected Epiroc to equip its flagship Rampura Agucha mine with Mobilaris Mining Intelligence™ (MMI).

A decision support solution for mine safety and efficiency, MMI enables superior situational awareness and is designed to visualise and support mining operations in all its complexities, in real-time, Epiroc says.

Hindustan Zinc has introduced various technologies and innovations and has obtained success in enhancing safety, efficiency and exploration, according to Epiroc.

Back in 2017, the miner looked to automate many of its operations, acquiring Epiroc drill rigs, LHDs, haul trucks (including the MT65) and exploration equipment to be used in five of its mines in northwestern India. The automation and other high-technology features of the equipment were enabled through the common Rig Control System, with most machines are equipped with the telematics solution CERTIQ.

Following the latest MMI order, Sunil Duggal, CEO, Hindustan Zinc, said: “We are continuously making efforts to develop better, connected and intelligent mines. The partnership with Epiroc will support our direction to develop safer and more productive operations at Rampura Agucha mine”.

Ulla Korsman-Kopra, Global Business Manager, Automation and Information Management at Epiroc, said the company would support Hindustan Zinc’s operational (mining) improvement processes with the MMI solution. “The globally-acclaimed features will take Hindustan Zinc’s operations to the next level of performance gains,” she said.

The MMI portfolio features situational awareness, short interval control, including machine data integrations, and traffic awareness promises to get maximum productivity and efficiency out of a customer’s mine, according to Epiroc.

“Thanks to the openness and transparency of the MMI solution, integrations with mixed fleet machines, sensors and more will create the foundation for vital real-time analytics,” Korsman-Kopra said.

The system is expected to be operational during once the networking is up and running at the Rampura Agucha mine.

Rampura Agucha is the second largest zinc mine in the world, according to Hindustan, with production of 3.9 Mt in the company’s 2018 financial year. It has a zinc-lead reserve grade averaging 15.7% Zn+Pb, with total reserves of 46 Mt as of March 31, 2018.

The ongoing underground mine project is being developed with a vision of producing 5 Mt/y of ore and includes a main production shaft of 955 m depth, 7.5 m diameter and hauling capacity of 3.75 Mt/y; two ventilation shafts, two declines from surface and paste fill plants, according to Hindustan.

BMA achieves ‘Australia coal first’ with shuttle car proximity detection trial

The team at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Broadmeadow coal mine, in Queensland, Australia, have been looking at ways to use proximity detection technology to reduce the potential exposure and risk to its people while working underground, and has recently achieved an Australia first for coal.

Glenn Owens, Project Manager, and Dave Zanette, Project Execution Lead, brought together a team of experienced electricians and engineers, and using the knowledge of its operators, began trialling proximity detection in Broadmeadow’s underground shuttle cars.

“Shuttle cars are considered to be one of the more higher risk pieces of equipment in underground mines as they are used to transport coal from the development face to the coal clearance system,” BHP said. “This machinery can unload hundreds of tonnes of coal per shift and are critical to the mine’s operations.”

After many months in planning and development, the team launched an Australian first for coal – rolling out the first ever Proximity Detection Shuttle Cars in full auto and stop modes.

“Keeping our people safe is always our highest priority so implementing this technology is a huge step forward in the future of underground mine safety,” Zanette said.

“It opens up the opportunity for us to use the technology across multiple pieces of mobile equipment and, if implemented correctly, can impact human behaviours in a positive way.

“It also has the potential to be replicated across all of our BHP underground and surface assets and throughout the broader industry, ultimately making mining safer for our people.”

The Proximity Detection System uses low frequency magnetic field generators, which are installed in the Shuttle Cars. The magnetic fields can detect two zones – Zone 1 (Warning Zone) and Zone 2 (Danger Zone).

When a pedestrian is detected in the Warning Zone, the machine will automatically slow down and the operator and pedestrian are both alerted via flashing orange beacons and alarms on the vehicle and cap lamps (worn on each person’s helmet).

Once someone enters the Danger Zone, a red flashing beacon and alarms sound and, importantly, the machine automatically stops, BHP said.

“Unique to an underground mining environment, there’s moving machinery, noise, limited lighting and confined spaces, so it’s fantastic to know that this technology provides an engineering solution on top of the existing controls to help keep our people safe,” Zanette said.

The project is currently in trial phase, with two of Broadmeadow’s shuttle cars already fitted with the system. All shuttle cars in Broadmeadow mine’s development panels are on track to operate the system by the first quarter of BHP’s 2020 financial year.

The Project Team will be testing this technology on Broadmeadow’s other mobile equipment such as personnel transporters, LHDs, shield haulers and selected surface mobile equipment, it said.