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Mine monitoring by the millimetre

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Mine deformation and ground slip are ever present issues at both open cut and underground mines. 

Unforeseen changes in ground conditions, water levels, land slips or deterioration in rock strata conditions all present a serious risk on site. 

At sites such as Cadia and Savage River, ground slips and rockfalls have previously halted production and presented a danger to miners on site. 

Deformation management is key to ensuring that incidents such as these can either be avoided or at the very least mitigated. 

According to Sokkia, its latest survey and monitoring equipment, the NET 1AX and NET 05AX automated 3D stations and fixed monitors can perform auto-pointing to access both reflective prisms and sheet targets from distances of up to a kilometre. 

These automated deformation management systems are represented by Lightwave Technology in Australia. 

According to Justin Davis, Lightwave's CEO, there has already been an interest in the technology in mining. 

The Sokkia Net systems are designed for fixed outdoor installation and operation in wet or dusty conditions. 

They use a primary telescope with a modulated laser, phase comparison method to provide automated real time and continuous slope monitoring. 

This structural data is then collected, processed, and interpreted, after which it can be remotely accessed through a web based system. 

Alerts are trigged as soon as an anomaly is detected, with an early warning system designed to minimise potentially disastrous events. 

Davis stated that "if there has been any detectable movement in the structure or landform then an alert can be raised". 

He added that the site specific accuracy can be set as narrowly to detect movements down to .5mm. 

"For instance, in an open cut mine slope angles can be monitored to allow optimal excavation and the facilitation of mining steeper slopes with safety," Davis explained. 

It incorporates a Windows CE operating system which interfaces with the MONMOS three dimensional co-ordinate measuring software for the immediate analysis and reporting of any structural change. 

According to Davis these change warnings "can be delivered by a range of different mediums, including email, SMS, audible alarms, printed reports, or visual warning systems.

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