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Cutting-edge fibre optics technology as a growing trend in mining

Cutting-edge fibre optics technology as a growing trend in mining

How system integration, autonomous technologies and focus on compliance are taking the industry to the next level 

As mine equipment, both fixed and mobile plant, become more autonomous, reliance on people to spot hazards early is reduced and progressively will not be available whatsoever.  When it comes to the remote nature of a mine and its vast area, it is hard to rely on personnel to spot dangerous situations such as spontaneous combustion. 

There is an increase of fires in mines, especially on underground mobile plant. In fact, fire and explosions were the number one driver of incident notifications according to the Safety Report from New South Wales Resource Regulator in July and September of 2020.  

The increase in mine fires is leading to some challenges on how the industry approaches fire and its inherent risk to the operations, staff and the environment. The combination of high fire incidents and rise of autonomous technology is giving form to growing safety trends. 

Fibre optics technology emerges as one of the most effective, comprehensive and robust technologies that provide valuable real time data to prevent fire incidents. How does this growing trend in mine fires relate to the photonics technology? An overall view of a few trends for 2021 give a few insights.  

The Mining Trends for 2021 

According to the Deloitte Mining Insights Report Tracking the changes for 2021, the industry is experiencing an increase in deployment of new technology adapted to tackle safety, data integration and environmental challenges. Among the overall trends, there are three important ones to be highlighted:  

  • On the road to zero harm: Creating the next generation of integrated predictive safety systems 

Miners are on the path to zero harm so that the workplace can be safe for their employees, nearby communities and the environment. Adopting new systems and technologies can prevent incidents and increase overall safety standards. 

  • Corporate governance adding to competitive advantage: Emerging risks mandate greater oversight 

Corporate governance is emerging as a powerful way to manage risks: cyber security, environmental and technological compliance are on the agenda. Companies are stepping up to comply with higher levels of safety not only on site but also on data and information, minimising any potential risks. 

  • The path towards integrated operationsPositioning miners to pivot in the face of change 

The rapid pace of technological advancement over the past decade has provided an increase in the amount of information available to support decision-making in the mining industry. This trend is expected to accelerate over time and to make it even more effective companies are going towards integrated operations and systems rather than isolated data systems.  

Safety, always central to mining, can be enhanced by new technologies and data. (…) An integrated approach to their use is needed. Safety analytics can predict potential harm and offer the means to prevent it.

Deloitte Mining Insights, Tracking the changes 2021 

 In that scenario, photonics technology is in line with all these aspects: the solution is fully integrated to a mines SCADA system, has national and international accreditation as a compliant solution to minimise fire risks as well as its focus on safety and incident prevention, aligning with the growing trends in the mining industry.  

 

Fibre Optics Technology 

The ability to remotely monitor for fires, with system diagnostics is now possible: all of that with zero maintenance. Our photonics technology makes it possible to have a safe and compliant system that allows real time monitoring to signal abnormal conditions and prevent fires before they happen.  

The system is suitable for both underground and surface facilities, with high accuracy of temperature and precise location, is easy to install and does not require any maintenance. The solution also fully integrates to your sites monitoring and control system, making the data easily available and integrated into your fire alarm response.  

All this is provided by a small 4mm diameter stainless steel reinforced fibre optic cable. The fibre optic cable is the sensor, performing temperature measurement and providing the exact location of the heat build-up. No other components are necessary: no field power, signal cabling or parts to be replaced. 

4mm Fibre Optics Sensor 

Our photonics technology has already been implemented in mines not only in Australia but overseas as well, promoting reliable real time monitoring of vast and hazardous areas. By having the exact location, temperature and the direction the fire is moving, first responders are better equipped to act ahead of the game, preventing and managing potential fire incidents before they start. 

The photonics technology aligns with the 2021 mining trends of focus on safety, system integration and corporate risk mitigation strategies. Mining companies can tackle different challenges with only one solution: the best technical and cost-effective system that provides total coverage with warning of abnormal heat build-up at an early stage.   

Contact Advanced Photonics Australia for more information. Our experienced team will provide the right support on each product application and answer any questions you might have. 

 

Sources 

 Deloitte Insights Report 2021 

https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/mining-and-metals 

 Deloitte Insights Report 2021, Safety Technology 

 https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/mining-and-metals/tracking-the-trends/2021/next-generation-mining-safety-technology.html