As the mining industry increasingly requires holis- tic mine-safety product offerings, particularly proximity detection systems (PDSs), mine safety solutions provider Strata Worldwide highlighted several key safety solutions and held live demonstrations of its products for the local mining industry in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga, last month.
The solutions showcased included Strata’s PDS HazardAvert, its wireless and battery-powered communication and tracking system CommTrac, and its multifunctional underground WiFi network StrataConnect.
Newly appointed Strata Worldwide president and GM Julian Ford states that accidents caused by the interaction between mineworkers and machines remain one of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities in the mining sector worldwide.
He notes that the demand for PDSs follows legislation – initiated by the Department of Mineral Resources – of PDS collision-avoidance technology as a statutory requirement for operations across all commodities.
The PDS HazardAvert, which was first launched in 2009, remains the company’s best-selling product, Strata Worldwide sales manager Craig Franck says.
Ford agrees, highlighting that 58% of serious incidents and fatalities at surface operations occurred when machinery moved at less than 10 km/h, while in underground operations, 87% of incidents occurred when machinery was moving at less than 10 km/h.
“Therefore, if mines address the low-speed incidents, [a significant segment of] the risk is addressed,” Ford stresses, noting that the Strata Worldwide PDS is designed to prevent incidents and accidents as a result of the interaction between mineworkers and machines.
The Strata PDS and collision-avoidance system uses an electromagnetic field and is effective in slowing down or stopping equipment when a person or vehicle enters the danger zone around moving machinery.
The system has been installed on more than 485 electrical machines and 220 diesel machines, and there are 14 700 personal alarm devices (PADs) – typically fitted in cap lamps – in South African underground coal mining environments. Hard-rock systems are also on trial at more than 25 sites worldwide.
The product can also be applied to surface and opencast mining equipment and has been installed on 280 machines with 3 000 PADs in South Africa.
Strata Worldwide launched an upgrade of its PDS systems in March, which incorporates more rugged and robust designs and upgraded software, as well as software system protection.
Meanwhile, StrataConnect delivers reliable interpersonal voice communication, along with versatile options in day-to-day and post-accident mine atmospheric monitoring, tracking and communications.
“The network provides complete connectivity with digital voice, high-speed data, two-way text communications, location tracking, atmospheric monitoring and productivity analysis,” according to the company’s website.
Franck adds that mining companies want to monitor safety in the mining environment and, subsequently, production using proximity detection and communication systems, which assist in personnel and asset tracking.
He reiterates that the Strata Worldwide open day, therefore, offers “an excellent opportunity to showcase and demonstrate our products in action [and has] become a traditional meeting place for members of the mining community”, as delegates receive relevant and insightful information on the latest trends in mine safety.
Underlining the significant demand for these systems, Franck notes that the coal sector has adopted the PDS technology, with the gold and platinum sectors also showing increasing interest in using the technology.
“There has been a substantial uptake in the solutions this year. Strata Worldwide expects this to continue for the next few years as mining companies become more safety-conscious, focus on zero-harm and aim to reduce operational costs and production losses that result from incidents,” he suggests.
Ford adds that junior coal miners have expressed increased interest in the systems – particularly in the PDSs.
However, he acknowledges that cost remains a challenge for junior miners. “Therefore, Strata Worldwide aims to consider the possibility of locally manufacturing the content of the solutions to further increase local market share,” he concludes.