| Written by Jens Petter Haugen
Mining is a vital and necessary industry. But with mining comes risks – not just to miners but also to mining companies and organizations. Miner monitoring is a crucial factor in reducing these risks and promoting mining safety.
In this article, we’ll discuss miner monitoring, how it can benefit mining safety, and how it can provide real-time data. We’ll also look at LKAB's implementation of Crew Companion, IDENTEC SOLUTION’S miner monitoring system. LKAB implemented Crew Companion in their mines to ensure improved safety, real time visibility of personnel and headcount per mustering zone in Kiruna’s underground mining operations.
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Miner monitoring entails a variety of different techniques and processes, such as using tools to measure air quality in underground mines, tracking the performance of mining equipment, and monitoring the health and safety of workers. This can involve checking machines for any mechanical problems, verifying that miners are using proper safety equipment, and monitoring the air quality to make sure it is safe for workers to be in the area. In some cases, miner monitoring may even involve monitoring the environment outside of the mine to make sure that potential hazards, such as gas leaks or hazardous material spills, are identified and addressed in a timely manner.
Miner monitoring is an essential part of creating a safe and secure working environment for miners, and it should be taken seriously. Miners need to be aware of the potential hazards that can exist in a work environment, and companies need to have processes in place to ensure that risks are identified and addressed quickly. Miner monitoring is an important measure to help prevent severe injuries and maintain a safe and secure environment for all workers.
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Miner monitoring is an essential step for mining safety and can provide a wealth of benefits to both miners and safety officials. This technique of monitoring and tracking the different aspects of a mine can provide an invaluable source of information for those in the industry.
First, miner monitoring can help prevent accidents and fatalities by alerting the proper authorities in the event of any dangerous situations. By monitoring air quality, seismic images, and other environmental data, mine personnel can be immediately notified of any changes which could be cause for concern. This also helps to identify any emerging issues before they become problematic, thus allowing for a proactive approach to safety.
Another benefit of miner monitoring involves efficiently operating the blasting schedule of a mine. This helps ensure the miners' safety by allowing for timely departure from a danger zone.
Finally, miner monitoring provides the necessary data to help to organize any rescue operations in an emergency. By monitoring the different zones of the mine, mining companies can identify areas where search & rescue operations may be needed. Such a system gives an immediate and real-time overview of the situation and if the personnel is evacuated or not accounted for.
Overall, miner monitoring is an essential step for mining safety and provides a range of benefits for those in the industry.
LKAB is an international high-tech mining and minerals group that mines and upgrades iron ore in northern Sweden for the global steel market. Their mine in Kiruna, Sweden is the largest and most modern underground iron mine in Europe. Founded in 1890, the company has been state-owned since the 1950s.
With a vast orebody that is four kilometres long, 80 to 120 meters wide and at least 2,000 meters deep (as wide as a soccer field, but almost 33 times longer), the Kiruna mine is dependent on the territorial regulations, company rules and an elaborated emergency planning. By employing up to 500 mine workers, LKBA needs to consider all possible situations and a key factor is ensuring employees’ safety and highly efficient handling in case of an emergency. INDENTEC SOLUTIONS personnel tracking system Crew Companion is part of a mining safety framework that delivers real-time visibility and protecting miners by equipping all labors with a transponder. These highly robust and reliable wireless tracking solution consists of providing hardware and software, which is facilitated throughout the isolated underground environments. Various areas are divided into monitored zones. The control centre constantly receives the location of each employee in the different zones.
In 2017, LKBA produced 27,2 MT of iron ore products and had sales of more than 23 billion SEK. Every day, iron ore equivalent to the steel used for around six Eiffel towers is mined. The amount of production annually increases by five per cent. Mining ore at great depths is a logistical and safety challenge that can only be overcome by a well-functioning infrastructure and a real-time, reliable personnel tracking system. The daily mining business starts with targeted detonation and drilling of mining zones around 1 a.m., creating cavities that then provide the miners with new mining areas. Ensuring an uninterrupted and efficient workflow, as well as avoiding downtime, LKBA requires instant access to information, automated alerts, and an accurate and reliable localization system of all employees, which ensures safety in a timely manner. Effective emergency planning is often reliant upon the transparency and localization of labour, ensuring employees are not located in hazardous and detonation mining areas. Interruptions can cause downtime, as well as monetary and production loss.
Further reading: Mining safety use case
The miner tracking system Crew Companion provides a wireless solution, guaranteeing visibility to ensure complete eviction of the detonation area by implementing automated headcount per mustering zone in every covering area. Moreover, the system provides accurate data and ‘man down’ alerts. This enables operators to instantly and automatically identify, locate and reach out to miners over the preferred communication system on the vast premise and ensures prompt initiation of search and rescue operations in emergency situations. Real-time monitoring of mining zones and labour can help operators risk management in mining. IDENTEC SOLUTIONS reduces the risk of human error through a robust, reliable, and prove digitalized counting process, which can be remotely administered from the control rooms.
- What is miner monitoring?
Miner monitoring is the process of collecting and analyzing data from miners to ensure safety and compliance with safety regulations. It also helps to identify potential hazards and take proactive steps to prevent or mitigate them.
- Why is miner monitoring important?
Miner monitoring is important for ensuring the safety of miners and for complying with safety regulations. It helps to identify potential hazards before they become a problem, thus saving time and money, for example when conducting scheduled blasting.
- What kind of data is collected through miner monitoring?
Data collected through miner monitoring can include dust levels, air quality, noise levels, temperature, and air flow. It can also include activity levels and the location of miners underground. With Crew Companion, the location of miners is recorded in an emergency only.
- How can miner monitoring help with emergency procedures?
Miner monitoring can help with emergency procedures by providing real-time data that can be used to quickly locate miners and develop plans to safely evacuate them in case of an emergency.
Mining is a dangerous yet necessary part of our modern lives, and miner monitoring is a crucial tool used to ensure the safety of miners in the field. Miner monitoring provides real-time data, creates better working conditions, and helps to decrease the risk of mining injuries. By investing in robust systems for miner monitoring, mining operations can better ensure the safety and well-being of its mining personnel. While mining will continue to be a hazardous profession, miner monitoring provides us with another layer of safety to ensure that miners return home safe and sound every day.
IDENTEC SOLUTIONS keeps improving methods and solutions for the Mining and Tunneling industry to ensure safe and reliable working conditions in hazardous environments. Read more about mining safety!
Update: This article was updated on March 30, 2023