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Making mining safer: Remote controlled mining

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Operating machinery underground is hard enough, but being cooped up in a tiny, hot, airless room as you do it makes the job worse. 

For heavy machinery remote control operators working 300 metres underground, this was just part and parcel of the job. 

Now two companies have joined together to create new teleremote cabins that are making these miners' lives a little easier. 

Remote Control Technologies (RCT) and shipping container company Royal Wolf have teamed together to create new teleremote operations cabins housed inside mini-cube containers, making work safer on site. 

RCT has changed the shipping containers into teleremote cabins by fitting them out with heavy duty electronics, air conditioning, as well as an inbuilt barrier system, changing the mini-cube into a remote control station for operators to use in both above and underground mining applications.  

"Each mini-cube is about 2.3 metres by 2.3 metres," Royal Wolf's WA regional sales manager Dion Clifford explained. 

"Compared to other competitor (containers or teleremote cabins) that use standarised wood based flooring, all of the Royal Wolf mini-cube containers are made from steel, which provides a much higher level of protection of the mining operators controlling the digging machinery," Clifford said.  

RCT's national sales and marketing manager Craig Buchanan said that safety is a major priority for teleremote operators. 

Even if they aren't at the mine's face itself, danger still exists on site. 

"It's important that our employees feel safe and secure when working in the challenging conditions of the mines," Buchanan explained. 

Conditions where it may reach around 30 degrees Celsius at times.

Buchanan stated that the new "teleremote cabins, made using Royal Wolf's mini-cubes, have been found to withstand some off the harshest mining conditions while still providing the operator with the comfort of working in a station style set up. Their toughness also aid in its portability. 

"Each cabin can move up to one hundred times in its lifetime, so the robust nature of the container and its ability to be relocated easily makes Royal Wolf's mini-cubes the perfect solution for the confined spaces in which we work," he said. 

"Control systems can be managed from the back of a 4WD but we've found that operators prefer to work from the cabins as they tend to be more comfortable." 

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