West Virginia University has developed a new technology for improving underground mine safety. The new system, which is still in development, will reduce the likelihood of “fall of ground” accidents. This type of accident is one of the leading causes of injuries in underground mines and typically occurs when part or all of the roof or a pillar collapses.
The new technology is based on a sensing system that uses sensors to monitor structural integrity through a geo modeling tool. Falling debris and mining control-related fatalities occur in longwall mines primarily and having access to a system like this could enhance safety in a mining site by offering greater predictability.
WVU’s research team is still working on the technology and it has not yet been implemented in any mines. They do have a significant grant for the development and testing of the sensors and software, which will lead to promising results for the future.
80% of fatalities in mining sites occurred where roof supports were in place but failed. Finding a way to predict where supports need extra strengthening or where supports may fail can prevent accidents in the future. The technology in place here would create instant mapping and predictive maintenance that could one day save lives.
The project will be focusing first on regional mines throughout Appalachia, before moving on to more mining sites when they have demonstrated the effectiveness of the technology.
Ongoing grants and funding will be used to support the development of future software and to expand the research team’s understanding. The project has great potential and if successful, could be used in mining sites all over the world to improve safety and prevent accidents.
The team will be working closely with local mines as well as nonprofit organizations to offer support in mining operations and implementation for the future of mining safety.
This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Becker Mining Communications! For over 15 years, Becker Communications has been the industry’s leader in increasingly more sophisticated electrical mining communication systems. As they expanded into surface mining, railroads, and tunneling they added wireless communication systems, handheld radios, tagging and tracking systems, as well as gas monitoring. Click here to learn more!