In open pit mining operations, accidents, which are dump-point related, have the potential to be catastrophic in terms of casualties, damage to equipment and loss of productivity. This implies that the compliance of safety berms, with the required height standards, has become imperative to safeguard personnel and equipment. Berm monitoring has thus become a safety critical aspect in open pit mining.
Traditionally, the monitoring of berms has been done in various ways, with the predominant method being through periodic visual observations. With the dynamic open pit mining environment, however, periodic visual observations do not provide continuous monitoring, and leave room for safety berm non-compliance between observations. This has subsequently driven the requirement for automated, continuous monitoring of safety berms.
This drive for a technological solution that fulfils these requirements, has led to the development of the Berm Monitoring System (BMS) in a joint venture by Horts Geo-Solutions, Reutech Mining and Syperion.
The BMS provides for the detection of non-compliant safety berms in a rapid, efficient and reliable manner. With a 360° scanning capability, the BMS caters for continuous height and position monitoring. This is of critical importance in the dynamic open pit mining environment, where the characteristics of berms are constantly changing, as the waste dump advances.
The BMS measurements are done with a RIEGL Laser Scanner, which scans the area of interest in 3 minute intervals. Communication to the control room is via Wi-Fi and interfacing to the BMS is achieved via a Human-Machine Interface (HMI) web-based application.
When a non-compliant safety berm is identified, an alarm will be automatically triggered in the control room, via the HMI. An instruction with location information is then provided to the dozer operator to repair the berm.
The BMS may be trailer mounted for mobility, or mounted in a fixed installation. The mobile BMS is totally autonomous with its own solar and battery power solution.
The BMS ultimately provides open pit mines with the opportunity to increase safety, taking the mining industry one step closer to a zero fatality rate.