Underground mines are now using advanced communication networks to deliver near real time data from the face to central mine operation hubs. One of the key benefits of this is that underground workers can now send & receive data from the working front to their respective departments. If utilised properly this can reduce time lag in the decision making loop, improving transparency as the shift progresses and allow for more timely and well informed decisions.
There are several tablet based software options that deliver real value to underground miners who deliver survey, geology as well as drill and blast services. I will briefly cover three of these below and outline how they could save the respective departments time and reduce double handling of data:
Magman’s Explosive Magazine Stock Control system eliminates the traditional paper based stock management processes, allowing operators to quickly and simply enter their stock movements into the Magman tablet. This reduces the requirement for rework and time consuming stocktakes if utilised correctly. Stock movements are transferred to the data holding website allowing managers & engineers to quickly access stock levels, perform digital stocktake and monitor usage data.
The real value in this system is it allows transparency to the drill and blast supervisors who may only complete periodic audits on the underground magazine. It also reduces paperwork and data entry for the blast crew and by virtue of the system, eliminates the potential production hazard of running out of essential explosive stock levels.
MineOps deliver several tablet based solutions based on the task at hand. The majority of these hinge on the back of a very thorough survey module. This application gives surveyors the abilities to measure, edit and build their datasets away from their desk. This reduces potential booking errors and lost data by allowing the data to be captured in situ at the face. This is particularly useful when used in conjunction with the cut tracking tool, which allows all of those on site with the application, to see the status and advance of each particular drive.
The survey module acts as a building block for the other underground applications which can deliver time efficiencies for front line jumbo/ longhole operators, as well as those completing service crew duties. The transparency coupled with ability to log essential data for each task at the mining face allows a vast reduction in paperwork and better informed decisions come the end of shift.
Rock Mapper is the ultimate geological mapping application for mine geologists and geotechnical engineers. Designed for use on the Apple iPad Pro, the app allows to photograph development faces, annotate in situ and to georeference face photographs in 3D space. While no internet connection is required for data acquisition, Rock Mapper connects to a cloud account to allow for quick and easy data exchange. All data is uploaded directly from within the app and then automatically forwarded to connected computers / devices.
Further to this and leveraging on the back of Apple’s latest LiDAR technology, the Rock Mapper team are bringing real-time 3D scanning to version 2.0 (scheduled for Q3/2021). Geologist will then be able to capture 3D coloured point clouds and georeference them right within Rock Mapper. The application wildly reduces the paper trail and instead produces consistent auto-generated PDF reports for mapping and sampling as well as fully georeferenced data that can be directly used for 3D modelling and grade control. This really is geological mapping in the modern age.
These three products all save time, empower the underground teams that utilise them and importantly reduce paper work. This in turn drives down data re-entry and allows for more timely decisions from the technical teams at a project. If these applications can be empowered by a wireless network in the background, delivering near real time data to those back in the office, the benefits can be vast for planning the next 12 hours of mining and keeping on track with development/production schedules.
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