Laser-scanning system monitors mines for safety

Aug. 3, 2015
Scans mine walls, measures stockpile sizes and wall movements, and enables geotech analysis.

(Image: The Lead -- news leads from South Australia)

The Sentry laser monitoring system made by Maptek (Adelaide, Australia) has ventured out of the lab into commercial use. The company's South Australian office has sold a Sentry laser-scanning system to Havilah Resources (also in Adelaide) which will use the system at its open-cut Portia gold mine in South Australia. The Sentry system can monitor minute mine wall movements, record stockpile volumes, conduct geotech analyses, and calculate the size of potential rockfalls.

Chris Giles, managing director of Havilah Resources, says the Sentry product is ideal for the unique situation of the Portia mine.

"The Portia mine is very unusual, as the gold deposit sits about 60 to 70 m below a surface of soft clay material," he notes. "To my knowledge, no one has dug a mine through this material at such a depth before in Australia. Normally, miners are cutting through more stable surface material, such as rock. As a result, wall integrity accuracy is critical, especially for worker safety. The accuracy of this new system allows us to measure any movement in the mine walls down to a couple of millimeters. If the data shows a wall is burgeoning, this can indicate possible future pit wall failure and the problem can be addressed safely and quickly. This system allows us to measure wall movement of just a half a centimeter up to a kilometer away."

The automated system continuously scans walls and zones and sends the information to a surveyor or engineer via their laptop or tablet. As a result, the system helps replace the need for a surveyor or engineer to physically enter an active mining area to collect data and reduced the need for expensive radar measuring equipment. It is also used to measure stockpiles of ore quickly and accurately.

"It also allows us to work out volumes very accurately, measuring how much material has been added to stockpiles and be aligned with material taken out of the mine, right down to down to a couple of cubic centimeters," says Giles.

"Sentry can be used to alert staff when surface movements approach certain thresholds and is ideal for detecting small movements over a long period of time to identify trends," adds James Howarth of Maptek.

The 3D scanning data can also be used to calculate volumes of potential rockfalls and conduct geotech analysis.

"Anything that adds to mining safety in a cost-effective way is always welcomed," says Phillip de Coursey, chief executive officer of the Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance (RESA). "Maptek continue to establish themselves as a world leader in mapping technology."


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