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Wtek RFID tags improve mining safety

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“Malmberget”, meaning “ore mountain” is a fitting description of the area located inside the Arctic Circle, 70 kilometres south of Kiruna, Sweden. The “Malmberget” mine decided in 2003 to install a mining safety system from Wtek, to improve the safety of their workers, says Wtek .

The system makes use of several “access points” installed at strategic locations in the mine. All workers are equipped with active RFID tags, which will be recognised and registered when they are within the reading range” of the access points. The maximum range is approximately 100 metres, which allows for guaranteed registrations at high-speeds. Even when 30 people are driving past in a bus, they will all be registered automatically.

In 2004 the LKAB news bulletin described the system as follows:

“…for the rescue service the system is of great help if an incident should occur. A sort of flight-recorder that shows the last location of personnel. For us, the system is a priceless tool…In the case of a fire or another incident, we can quickly locate the last location of personnel…It is important to quickly obtain an overview on how many people are inside, and where they are located in emergencies…”

Malmberget’s newest haulage level is located 1000 metres beneath the surface. The haulage level is defined as one of ten separate areas (sones) in the Watchermine software, allowing the master controlling office, to instantly display all personnel working here. In addition to displaying the whereabouts of personnel the system also brings other benefits, such as:

• A “work alone” feature allows workers to be given a deadline as of when they must have exited the mine. If they have not left before this deadline, an alarm will be triggered.

• Access control schedules allow alarms to be sent out when unauthorized workers reside in an undesired area.

• Automatic routing of alarms to the correct recipient, converts “alarm-time” into “rescue-time”.

• A map edit tool, allows for the placement of physical components on the same map background as the worker whereabouts are displayed. This provides instant visual indication whenever connections or main power supplies are lost.

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