TeleminingTM is the use of current state-of-the-art technology, including underground communications, positioning, process engineering, monitoring and control systems, to operate mining equipment and systems. TeleminingTM greatly increases safety of underground mining and improves productivity and working conditions.
Through advanced research, development and implementation, Inco Limited is incorporating remotely controlled mining operations, or TeleminingTM, into its worldwide exploration and production operations. Several components of Incoís current mining operations, including certain loaders, drills and trackless tramming units are already capable of being operated remotely, even from surface. Research has now entered a new stage aimed at developing and testing technology to make the entire mining cycle capable of remote operation. The fully-automated mine is becoming a possibility thanks to the emergence of positioning software.
However, the mining industry has a unique set of circumstances to overcome when it comes to automation.
Unlike the automotive industry, which is investigating global positioning systems (GPS) as a navigational aid in new vehicles, the underground mining industry cannot use GPS because it is not practical to use satellite signals below surface. Instead, Inco is investigating the potential for gyroscopes and magnetic electronic compasses to locate the position of underground vehicles. By developing the process-control systems with the new positioning software, a central computer will be able to control many functions in the automated mining operation.
Automation not only increases workplace safety and efficiency, it also reduces the mining industryís production costs. For example, since Incoís automated haulage truck was put underground in 1991, it has hauled 1.5 million tons of ore without failure. The truck uses an on-board computer and video cameras so the driver can sit thousands of metres away on the surface and operate the vehicle using a PC-based software program which simulates the haulerís dashboard.
In the case of an automated load-haul-dump vehicle, the Company realized cost savings from an increased fuel capacity through the elimination of the operatorís cab. Through the use of video technology, telecommunications, modems and PCs, Inco has developed a positioning robot and robotic drifting systems, and has installed telecommunications sytems and intelligent drilling systems.
Advances in TeleminingTM lead to the development of new and exciting technologies and methods that are changing the face of mining.
Golde, P., Atkinson, G., Scoble, M and Baiden, G., 1995. Issues related to Teleoperation in Underground Hardrock Mines. Proceedings 4th Int. Symposium on Mine Mechanization and Automation, Colorado School of Mines, U.S. Bur. Mines, Denver 2, pp. 37-48.
Mottola, L., Scoble, M. and Baiden, G., 1995. Systems Analysis for Robotic Mining. Proceedings 3rd Can. Conf. Computer Applications in the Minerals Industry, Can. Inst. Min. Metall., Montreal, pp. 595-604.
Vagenas, N., Scoble, M. and Baiden, G., 1995, Simulation for Design, Planning and Control in the Automated Mine. Proc. 4th Inst. Symp. on Mine Planning & Equipment Selection, University of Calgary, Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 271-276.
Baiden, G., Scoble, M. and Flewelling, S., 1993. Robotic Systems Development for Mining Automation. Bull. Can. Inst. Min. Metall., 86, 972, pp. 75-77.