One such system is Canadian firm Wipware's WipFrag system, now available in South Africa through Micron Scientific.
The completely automated, fully-integrated personal computer (PC)-based fragmentation analysis system uses photoanalysis techniques to measure broken rock fragments.
Developed by Dr John Franklin and Dr Norbert Maerz, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada, the system offers a fast, convenient and accurate way of quantifying fragmentation.
The system allows production operators, engineers, scientists, and mining consultants to measure the size distribution of rock, to achieve the required fragmentation with few explosives and low drilling costs.
In addition, the system provides information on the size uniformity, oversize, fines and fragment shape of the rock, and is suitable for maintaining quality-control of stockpiles, in-place rockfills, crusher inputs and feed lines into processing plants.
The system comes as a PC-based workstation using microprocessors, an image capture board, fast video accelerators and specially-designed software to identify and measure the fragments and display or print the data as a histogram or cumulative weight per cent passing curve, with or without acceptance limits for size fractions.
Furthermore, the company provides technical support to customers all over the world through its website.
The system can accept images as standard photographs, 35 mm slides, digital camera disks, live video and portable video recorder inputs.
The system can be adapted to monitor rock fragment sizes continually on moving conveyor belts, trucks or other processes.
This automatic mode is suitable for use in South African coal-mines, where it is important to constantly monitor the quality and grade of the coal supplied to Eskom or exported.
The system monitors the quality of the coal continually with no human intervention, and makes the results available to the relevant person on a continual basis. With installations in more than 22 countries, South African customers include AECI Explosives, Anglo Platinum (AngloPlat), the Atomic Energy Corporation, Iscor, Ingwe Coal, Potgietersrus Platinum, and Syferfontein Colliery.
Wipware is the latest agency acquired by Micron Scientific, the company that took over representation in South Africa for the last six months.
Another of the company's products making large inroads into the quarrying industry is Wipjoint, which is used in the geological surveying of rockfaces prior to blasting.
The system works on the same principle of analysing rockface images and will analyse the size, orientation and geographical make-up of the rock, forecasting how it will react to blasting.
In other new developments, the South African company has been awarded a contract to supply two WipFrag 2 systems to AngloPlat.
One will be installed in the company's 400 kiloton plant in Rustenburg, in the North West Province, and the second in the UG2 concentrator plant at Maandagshoek, to monitor the plant feed belts on semi-autogenous grind and fully-autogenous grind mills.