Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2017

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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Page 51 of 99

SAFETY AND TRAINING 50 E&MJ • AUGUST 2017 allow a worker to assess his or her physi- cal and mental status based on real-time brain-wave data, or to notify supervisors if the worker is unable or unwilling to do so. Australia-based SmartCap Tech recently introduced the LifeBand, a follow-up prod- uct to its SmartCap, which uses sensors in the hatband of a purpose-built cap to con- duct EEG (electroencephalography) mon- itoring of fatigue levels in the wearer. The LifeBand, according to the company, uses similar technology but can be fitted into any type of headwear — hardhats, caps or bean- ies — and will provide alertness readings via Bluetooth to the user's smartphone as well as to a central reporting point, if desired. Taking Over At the other end of the technology spec- trum, larger, mine-wide systems, such as those used for dispatch and fleet manage- ment, are also becoming sophisticated enough to take control of equipment out of operators' hands if the situation war- rants, based on sensor readings. For example, in June, Hexagon AB an- nounced the launch of HxGN Mine VIS, a vehicle intervention system that detects and prevents collisions by automatically slowing down or even stopping a haul truck if an im- minent collision is detected. The company said Mine VIS is an additional layer of safety on top of the Collision Avoidance System, (CAS) helping to avoid incidents, injuries and fatalities. Mine VIS manages traffic in the pit and, by reacting when and if oper- ators do not, it ensures safety rules are fol- lowed. CAS provides drivers of large vehicles with 360° proximity detection at any speed and in all conditions via cabin display units. It is installed in more than 25,000 vehicles in more than 60 mines worldwide. According to Hexagon, Mine VIS can take control of the machine in certain defined situations if the operator does not react appropriately to the initial CAS warning. The system can act depend- ing on the situation, either by inhibiting propulsion, activating the retarder or ap- plying the service brake. It can also be used in conjunction with the company's fatigue-detection, alerting and reporting solution, FatigueMonitor — using the same sensors and user interface. Mine VIS is being installed in Anglo American Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine in South Africa, where government regu- lations will compel surface mines to im- plement such systems on heavy machine equipment by June 2019. In other applications, collision avoid- ance systems can provide greater safety for operators in less-obvious ways. For ex- ample, Wenco International reported that installation of its Fleet Awareness technol- ogy at Nordgold's Bissa-Bouly gold mine in Burkina Faso is expected to help operators cope with low-visibility conditions arising from thick airborne dust clouds on site. (For a leading fleet management sys- tem provider's view on emerging colli- sion-avoidance technologies and chang- ing regulatory requirements in the global mining market, see "Technology Alone Won't Keep Workers Safe," p. 51.) Hands Off In the underground sector, mine operators are indicating greater interest in automat- ing various aspects of their loading and haulage operations to not only improve productivity but enhance worker safety and asset preservation as well. E&MJ report- ed in the July issue (See "Greens Creek Moves to Automated Loading With Sandvik System," p. 75) that Hecla Mining Co.'s Greens Creek operation is the first U.S. underground mine to employ Sandvik's AutoMine machine-automation technology to one of its loaders working in areas where it extracts ore by bulk longhole methods, and expects to add the capability to more machines in the near future. In Australia, Pybar, an underground mining contractor, began testing a new Haul Truck Guidance system from Perth- based RCT at Aurelia Metals' Hera mine in New South Wales. According to RCT, the gold and lead/ zinc project increased productivity and reduced machine damage after equipping two of Pybar's Caterpillar AD45 ejectors with the ControlMaster system that guides the machines to loading and dump points, only requiring operator intervention when the machine is actually being loaded. Pybar COO Brendon Rouse said the system was significantly improving the company's ability to safely and efficiently direct dump waste into a stope. "The Haul Truck Guidance solution has eliminated the need for operators to steer the truck down the long drives, and the need for developing truck turnaround bays near the stope tip heads," said Rouse. "The system works in a similar way to the current [RCT] Guidance sys- tem fitted on several of Pybar's produc- tion loaders at numerous other sites." RCT's product manager, Dave Holman, said this solution evolved from the Control- Master Loader Guidance solution. "It was specifically designed for the haul truck ap- plication after feedback from clients made us aware of the issues they were experienc- ing on site, which included costly damage bills and erratic production results," said Holman. "RCT redesigned both the hard- ware and software to suit the requirements and a close collaboration with key mining companies ensured our unique solution was addressing all areas of concern." The steering, braking and speed of the truck are automatically determined by the minimum width of the drive and the look- ahead distance of the onboard laser units. There is also an object detection feature which further assists in tight areas. "Automating the process simplifies the task of driving a haul truck long dis- tances within tight space limitations to deliver consistent cycle times while heav- ily reducing machine damage simultane- ously," said Holman. Based on favorable results from the system's trial at Hera, Pybar reportedly is evaluating its application at other sites. SmartCap Tech recently announced a collaboration with Canada-based Newtrax Technologies to develop innovative safety solutions utilizing SmartCap's LifeBand sensor band in underground mining applications. The LifeBand is the latest in wearable tech offered by SmartCap Tech, following earlier introduction of its SmartCap fatigue-sens- ing and reporting system, shown here.

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