Tag Archives: safety

Exxaro’s Matla achieves safety milestone

Exxaro has marked a significant safety milestone this month, with the Plant and Central Engineering Workshops (CEWS) – work areas within the organisation’s Matla coal mine, in South Africa – achieving 730 lost-time injury (LTI) free days.

This achievement is equivalent to two years of zero mine worker LTIs, the company said.

The accomplishment forms part of Exxaro’s Khetha Ukuphepha safety campaign, which was launched in 2019 across all business units to address the risky nature of mining work, the company said. “The cornerstone of the company’s zero-harm pledge, the campaign ensures that every employee adheres to strict safety standards and procedures both at work and home,” Exxaro explained.

Earlier this year, Exxaro celebrated three years of fatality-free operations with a steady decrease in its lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) over the last five years. In 2019, Exxaro maintained an overall LTIFR of 0.12, above its target of 0.11.

Exxaro’s Matla Coal Mine Acting Business Unit Manager, Musa Mabasa, said: “We remain determined to achieve Zero Harm in our operations. This includes focusing our efforts on health and safety measures that will ensure the well-being of our employees.”

Mabasa stressed the importance of building a collaborative culture where every employee, no matter their job designation, is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their colleagues.

“When it comes to a risk-free work environment, we are all leaders, and all of us need to lead the way to safety excellence,” Mabasa said.

“I am incredibly proud of Matla’s Plant and CEWS teams for achieving yet another safety milestone. They continue to set the standard and raise the bar when it comes to safety performance.”

Matla Plant Manager, Chris Welkom, added to this congratulations, saying: “I would like to thank everyone for continuing to work safely and make safety their way of life in their various working areas. Let us continue with this attitude and determination as we aim for another year without LTI. Our next target is 1,095 LTI free days.”

Some 20 km west of Kriel in Mpumalanga, South Africa, Matla comprises three mines that produce 14 Mt/y of power station coal with a workforce of over 2,500 permanent employees and contractors. It is a fully-mechanised underground mine employing continuous mining and shortwall methods, according to Exxaro.

Sphera to increase risk reach with acquisition of thinkstep

Integrated risk management company, Sphera has entered into an agreement to acquire Stuttgart, Germany-based thinkstep in a deal that could see the creation of an “all-encompassing sustainability, health, safety, risk and product stewardship platform”.

In recent years, thinkstep, a software consulting services company specialising in corporate sustainability and product stewardship, successfully transformed its business model into a Software-as-a-Service-based solution. “Combined with thinkstep’s exceptional client base, this transition allowed it to take a major step forward in the company´s development,” Sphera said.

Sphera says 60 of the top 100 global metals and mining companies use its solutions for continuous improvement of core work processes, with today’s sector-wide operating principal of sustainable development making its offering even more important. One of its customers is Vale, which used Sphera’s environmental health and safety (EH&S) framework to integrate and prioritise risks from across its global operaitons.

Terms of the deal, which is pending customary German regulatory approvals for mergers and acquisitions, were not disclosed.

Sphera said: “thinkstep’s corporate sustainability software, implementation and consulting services simplify enterprise-wide sustainability reporting, risk management, audits, strategy and resource optimisation. The company’s product stewardship software and consulting services assist in designing more sustainable products and in managing product compliance across the lifecycle.”

Paul Marushka, Sphera’s President and CEO (pictured), said thinkstep’s cloud-based and on-premise software, data and expertise in the corporate sustainability and product stewardship markets advance the company’s mission of “creating a safer, more sustainable and productive world”, adding that thinkstep’s presence in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific, extended Sphera’s geographic footprint further.

Jan Poulsen, thinkstep CEO, said: “thinkstep offers our customers more than 30 years of experience in the field of sustainability. Adding our advanced software solutions, extensive LCA and eco-profile databases, and sustainability expertise to Sphera’s EH&S solutions is a very attractive business combination that will allow us to serve our extensive customer base more broadly going forward.”

Drones continue to make mining activities safer, Anglo American says

Anglo American, in its 2018 annual report, says its use of drones for safety, surveying and security is continuing to expand as it looks to remote-control more of its mining activities.

The company has used drones attached to manned aerial-reconnaissance planes for many years and, today, considers itself an industry leader when it comes to drone use.

Anglo said it has an expanding fleet of drones, from fixed-wing aircraft to quadcopters, with about 50 skilled operators and another 30 people working in drone maintenance across the group. This is spread across its platinum group metal operations in South Africa, the Kumba iron ore mines (also in South Africa), and at De Beers diamond asset sites in Canada, Namibia and South Africa.

“Drones are an important part of our drive to remote-control many of our mining activities while gathering enhanced data and real-time operational performance metrics,” Anglo said. “They provide rapid visual access and multiple views, with smaller drones being used to inspect confined spaces on mines and in processing plants, while bigger aircraft are able to fly at night and stay aloft for up to eight hours.”

Drones are being used in varied tasks such as exploration, mine mapping and calculating the volume of stockpiles, Anglo said, adding that they are proving to be cost effective.

“The deployment of drones is assisting in making our activities safer. Crucially, their use avoids the need for people in potentially hazardous areas,” the company said.

Drones are now being used to inspect and monitor high-risk areas, including stockpiles, mine slopes, ore passes, tailings dams and chemical-storage facilities, Anglo said. They can check for the presence of personnel in a blast area, and measure fragmentation or the direction of dust movement after a blast. By employing them in such applications, it removes the possibility of Anglo personnel entering dangerous areas.

Other applications the company is using them on include traffic management at operations, as well as monitoring rehabilitation activity, including in areas where it can be difficult and risky for people on the ground to gain access.

Frans Kruger, Anglo American’s Global Aviation Safety Principal, said: “Drones increase our safety and efficiency, and they let us take human beings out of potentially dangerous environments.”

Anglo concluded: “Drone technology is evolving fast and, as a responsible operator, we are working closely with other drone operators and South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority, for example, to develop appropriate standards, while also serving with other mining companies on the technical advisory committee of the Flight Safety Foundation.”

Japan’s Terra Drone invests in underground aerial robotics startup Inkonova

Terra Drone, a leading global commercial drone technology company, has acquired a significant stake in Inkonova AB, a Swedish startup developing aerial robotics for underground mining.

The deal, comprised of a cash injection, will see changes to the management team, as well as technical, business development, and operational collaborations, Inkonova said.

Terra Drone’s UAV inspection, survey, and other service provisions cover various industries globally including mining, which just happens to be Inkonova’s main market.

Ahmed AlNomany, Inkonova AB Co-Founder and CEO, said: “Terra Drone’s global network of clients, post-processing domain, service-based business model, customer experience, technical personnel, and human and financial resources, will help us dramatically ramp up our business development and commercial-readiness efforts, taking our technology to the next level.”

Under the deal, Inkonova will supply Terra Drone with its UAV core technology, including anti-dust and waterproof platforms (as in the TILT Ranger, pictured) and infrastructure-denied autonomous navigation (as in the Batonomous technology), while Terra Drone – apart from providing finance – will employ its global clients, local offices, pilots, post-processing capacity, and broader commercial and technical domain expertise.

Toru Tokushige, Founder and CEO of Terra Motors Corp and Terra Drone Corp, who will be appointed as an Inkonova board member, said the company had been looking to partner with other companies in the mining field in order to expand.

“Underground mining still has huge issues. According to the statistics from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the number of lost-time injuries in 2015 was 4,517 in America, and those of other developing counties were incomparably high.

“So, I hope the cooperation between Terra Drone, with its broad network and innovative technologies, and Inkonova, the eminent company for mining drone services, contributes to the rapid and further technical improvements for underground safety and productivity.”

In line with the partnership, Inkonova’s products will undergo rebranding to streamline with Terra Drone products, details of which will be announced later this month.

Inkonova’s products include aerial platforms, and aerial autonomous navigation/mapping solutions customised to the constraints of underground mines, and subterranean or constricted industrial spaces.

Earlier this year, Inkonova demoed the Batonomous navigation system for its TILT Ranger and TILT Scout underground drones in Gällivare with LKAB. It has since also worked with Barrick Gold on the Golden Sunlight mine in Nevada.

SFA Main Image (Ansul Cat)

FEATURED ARTICLE – Safety

This month’s Spotlight Feature Article homes in on safety products and innovations in the mining industry. Partnerships between equipment OEMs and safety equipment specialists are becoming more important. At the beginning of the year, Johnson Controls International, makers of leading global brand ANSUL®, announced the launch of its factory-installed fire suppression system program with Caterpillar. The program provides factory-installed fire suppression systems on several models of Cat® mining equipment, with the ultimate aim of enhancing vehicle integrity and longevity as well as expediting machine delivery