Laser technology solutions to improve safety at gold mines

2nd August 2013

By: Carina Borralho


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Laser scanning solutions developer 3D Laser Mapping reports that its high- tech SiteMonitor laser monitoring system, which supports mine survey activities, is ideal for improving safety at mining operations.

It adds that it supplied gold mining giant AngloGold Ashanti with a monitoring system to improve operations at its Geita gold mine, located 50 km south of Lake Victoria, in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Geita, which began production in 2000, is the largest of AngloGold Ashanti’s eight openpit mines in Africa and is the groups only operation in Tanzania.

The company explains that the technology enables the user to measure ground movement and change in the slopes to improve mine safety. The technology is commonly used in openpit mines for the continuous or periodic stability monitoring of high mine walls.
The system combines laser scanning hardware with monitoring software that is specifically designed for application in the mining sector. It is currently being deployed at Geita’s Nyankanga opencast deposit to monitor slope stability and pit wall movements to provide early-warning detection in an attempt to protect mine workers and mine equipment.

“The laser scanning system, which includes a long-range RIEGL VZ-1000 scanner and SiteMonitor software, is a critical mine survey and safety tool,” says 3D Laser Mapping MD Jon Chicken.

In February 2007, the mine experienced a partial slope failure in an immediate footwall of the Nyankanga pit. However, the failure was monitored by a slope stability radar and enabled mineworkers to evacuate in advance to ensure that no injury or damage to equipment occurred.

The RIEGL VZ-1000 is a long-range, high-speed laser scanner with a wide range of view, and uses echo digitisation and online waveform analysis to achieve accurate measurements, even under poor weather conditions. The RIEGL VZ-1000 achieves accuracies of 5 mm at ranges of up to 1 400 m, and can capture up to 122 000 points a second, with a 100º × 360º field of view.

“This system scans the pit slopes and acts as an early-warning system to determine any instability and movement which could lead to slope failures or wall collapses. Slope collapses and pit wall failures caused by unexpected ground movements can result in fatalities, damage to mining equipment and loss of productivity. The laser scanning system gives a user a far greater understanding of risk and helps ensure a safe working environment,” explains Chicken.

He adds that the scanner and software are essential tools in preventing incidents and associated injuries, as they provide a better understanding of the immediate, fundamental and contributing causes of slope failures and wall movements.

South African miner AngloGold Ashanti has over 20 operations in ten countries on four continents, as well as several exploration projects it has around the world. AngloGold Ashanti is currently one of the worlds largest mining companies and, in 2012, more than 70% of the company’s gold production came from Africa.

The mining company states that it is committed to fulfilling its obligations and duties as a responsible corporate citizen.

Meanwhile, 3D Laser Mapping will be part of the Slope Stability conference, which will be held in Brisbane, Australia, between September 25 and 27. The conference hopes to provide a forum for openpit mining and civil engineering practitioners, consultants, researchers and suppliers worldwide to discuss new technology that will ensure safety and optimum performance at mines.

Edited by Megan van Wyngaardt
Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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