Free software creates safer mine ventilation

19th November 2021 By: Theresa Bhowan-Rajah - journalist

With specialist mine ventilation simulation software VUMA-network available at no cost, mining companies, particularly junior miners, can enjoy the benefits of this simulation technology. This is further underpinned by the continuous development and support of VUMA.

“The safety of mineworkers is paramount. It is our number one priority. Having this technology available free of charge means that companies do not have to pay large sums of money to successfully simulate the ventilation systems of its mines,” says VUMA ventilation engineer Miguel Coelho.

VUMA Software – a subsidiary of mine ventilation and refrigeration specialist firm BBE Group – notes that before the company made its technology available free of charge in 2019, the VUMA-network solution had an upfront cost of R40 000, with an additional fee of R15 000 per user for every subsequent year.

The software, through various input parameters, enables users to identify the optimal position to install ventilation infrastructure, which includes the fan duty and ventilation shaft diameters required for the areas in question.

It also enables mining companies to save money by reducing unnecessary capital expenditure through an accurate simulation of the mine’s ventilation layout as well as trade off various what-if scenarios to determine the fit-for-purpose ventilation distribution. Ventilation simulations done accurately should be a digital representation of the mine i.e., a digital twin.

This technology coupled with strategically placed underground sensors allows for increased safety within a mine, as it can detect potential concerns or identify areas where there might be low flows, or even recirculation of air, adds VUMA CTO Hendrik Botma.

Software Training

“The simulation is based on the mine blueprint. As the mine expands, new production details are added into the simulation by the user,” says Botma.

However, if mining companies are unable to process and input the entire simulation or use consultants, such as BBE, training is provided by VUMA..

“We provide training at various levels of technical difficulty from beginner to advance for all mining clients who might require it, either on-site or at our offices. Our premium training is when the clients mine is constructed and calibrated during the training course. Prior to Covid-19, these training courses were provided through face-to-face sessions only. However, since the onset of the pandemic, we conduct these classes either through contact, virtually or hybrid,” explains Botma.

The company can also provide training and simulation solutions suited to the requirements of a particular mine.