New radar to improve underground mining safety, productivity

Mining Weekly-new-radar-to-improve-underground-mine-safety

SSP Ground Penetrating Radar Electra Mining 2016 illustration

Article as published in Mining Weekly by Mia Breytenbach. Source:

Geotechnical slope stability monitoring radar systems supplier Reutech Mining locally developed the Sub Surface Profiler (SSP) – a compact and convenient ground-penetrating radar system that aims to increase mine safety and contribute to increased productivity and efficiency in operations.

Reutech Mining regional sales and marketing manager Alex Pienaar noted at the official product launch in Johannesburg last week that the SSP was low-cost, lightweight and designed specifically for the challenges of the underground mining environment.

The SSP was also exhibited at the Electra Mining Africa trade show from September 12 to 16 at the Nasrec Expo Centre, in Johannesburg.

The SSP weighs less than 4.5 kg and has a patented ergonomic design that allows for a one-handed operation by an operator. Key features include a patented suspension and roller system, while shorter or longer handles can be interchanged to be used in smaller, deeper underground mining areas. The SSP can also be mounted to mining vehicles for easy operation.

“The SPP uses small, rechargeable batteries, which can be replaced during underground operations, allowing for the SPP to be operated for more than four hours and to continue operation on standby indefinitely,” Reutech Mining executive Jan de Beer said, highlighting the power efficiency of the SPP.

To improve information flow, data collected is wirelessly transmitted to a tablet computer, where it is processed in real time, thereby providing instant feedback on fault structures up to 6 m inside the rock mass.

“This accurate information contributes to the precise management of falls-of-ground risks, as well as optimal use of support mechanisms in an environment where every second counts,” De Beer added.

He stressed that Reutech Mining believes in “designing innovative radar products that solve complex problems in simple ways”.

“This passion drives our desire to think outside the box, rethink old problems and reimagine new solutions. It has led us to a product that improves underground mining productivity and safety in a revolutionary way,” De Beer told Mining Weekly at the launch.

The development of the system was prompted by the safety and productivity challenges faced by underground mines internationally, Pienaar added.

Reutech Mining worked with a South African platinum mining major on the development of the SSP, which required an improved solution to tackle falls-of-ground risks.

De Beer stressed that a falls-of-ground event could have a devastating impact on the bottom line of any underground mine, leading to loss of life, damaged equipment or mine closure. However, the accurate identification of fault structures hidden inside the rock – structures that cannot be seen by the naked eye – and improved flow of information once a fault structure has been identified could facilitate quicker decision-making, he suggested.

The SSP has been trialled at several South African platinum mines, as well as at a diamond mine in Canada.

Future trials of the SSP are set to be conducted in the diamond, gold and coal sectors.

Reutech will further manage the various certification processes of the SSP, which will include Federal Communication Commission and Australian Communications and Media Authority certification.

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