Mining is an essential industry responsible for extracting the minerals, metals, and other materials that allow us to live in the modern world. But underground mining is also a dangerous occupation, and every year workers pay the ultimate price while performing their duties.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to a few innovative technologies, the mining industry is becoming safer and more efficient every day. Here are seven cutting-edge technologies transforming the mining industry.
Operating a vehicle underground is notoriously difficult due to limited space and poor visibility. However, a new generation of battery-operated underground mining vehicles offers a few advantages over their diesel-powered predecessors. Not only are these vehicles cleaner and quieter, but they can also be operated more safely due to their ability to be precisely controlled remotely. In addition, these vehicles require less maintenance and have a lower overall cost of ownership.
Automated Lubrication Systems
Another innovation that’s enhancing safety in underground mines is automated lubrication systems. These systems provide regular and precise lubrication to machinery, reducing wear and tear while extending equipment lifespan.
By reducing the need for workers to enter potentially dangerous areas for maintenance tasks, automated lubrication systems help create a safer work environment for everyone involved. In addition, these systems can be programmed to provide customized lubrication based on the specific needs of each individual machine. As a result, they can help minimize downtime and increase productivity.
Collision Avoidance Systems
Mining operations are inherently dangerous, due to the nature of the work and the equipment being used. Collisions between people and vehicles are all too common and can often lead to serious injury or even death. Collision avoidance systems use sensors and other technology to detect potential hazards and warn operators of potential dangers, helping to avoid accidents before they happen. These systems can be incredibly effective in reducing the number of accidents in mines and can help to save lives.
Continuous Mining Machines
Traditionally, mining has been a labour-intensive process involving teams of workers operating heavy machineries such as jackhammers and dynamite. Thanks to continuous mining machines, large sections of coal or rock can be extracted quickly and efficiently with far fewer workers required. These giant machines are typically operated remotely for safety reasons, reducing the need for workers close to potential hazards.
Real-Time Location System Tags
People working in large underground mines often have to work in close proximity to hazardous materials and machinery. If something goes wrong or someone becomes trapped, it’s crucial that rescue teams are able to locate them quickly. That’s where real-time location system (RTLS) tags come in. These tags attach to individuals or assets and use wireless technology to transmit their location in real-time, allowing rescue teams to locate them quickly in an emergency situation.
Robotics are increasingly being used in mining operations, both for above-ground and underground applications. Robots can be used for tasks such as drilling, tunnelling, and hauling ore. They can work longer hours than humans without getting tired. This means that they can increase productivity while also reducing the risks associated with human workers performing these tasks.
One of the most important pieces of equipment for any miner is a good communication system. In the past, miners would use canaries to monitor air quality and warn of dangers ahead. Modern communication systems allow miners to stay in constant contact with the surface and each other. This means that if there is an accident or emergency, help can be summoned quickly. It also allows for more efficient coordination among workers, which can lead to increased productivity.