Tech solution to boost mining industry safety

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A new tech-driven solution aimed at improving safety and efficiency in the mining sector will soon be deployed at a suitable operational mine site.

This is according to the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), which supported the Mandela Mining Precinct in its mission to develop the Real-Time Information Management Systems (RTIMS) solution.

Fatalities in the local mining industry are a common occurrence. Statistics from the Department of Mineral Resources reveal 81 mining deaths occurred in SA mines in 2018, down from 88 mining deaths recorded in 2017.

The DSI says RTIMS aims to reduce risks by developing a 360-degree holistic offering to digitalise the South African mining industry, with the RTIMS project concepts tested in 2019.

“Digitalisation enables the right information to reach the right place or person at the right time, with RTIMS collecting and relaying information digitally between tagged equipment and people underground and above ground, ensuring ongoing communication for improved efficiency and safety.”

CSIR engineer Stephen Marais sees RTIMS addressing government and industry concerns about safety in the mining space.

Marais explains the goal is to have everything and everyone tagged, and then produce a floor plan using 3D technology and a lidar backpack scanner to minimise accidents. “It is envisaged that miners will interact with one another and all sorts of equipment, much like soldiers who have audio-visual equipment attached to their helmets.”

The Mandela Mining Precinct is a public-private partnership between the DSI and the Minerals Council SA. Hosted and managed by the CSIR, the precinct aims to help develop frameworks and standards for technology in mining.

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