Technology Alone Won’t Keep Workers Safe

Smart design, adequate training and an operator’s fitness for the job are critical to safety success

Mining companies have taken great strides to improve operator safety in recent years, and collision awareness systems will likely further this trend as mine sites globally strive to achieve a zero-incident workplace. But while new technologies can help this improvement effort, technology alone cannot be a mine’s only line of defense in the goal to avoid vehicle collisions; sufficient training and operators that are fit for the job are also required to achieve total mine site safety.

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Small But Mighty: Pneumatic Actuator Sizing and Selection Simplified

In mines and mills, installation space is often at a premium for pneumatic actuators used in valve automation

Although space has been a long-standing hurdle in the actuator industry, innovation around this restriction didn’t take place until recently. In fact, up until the late 2000s, no fundamental improvements or disruptions to pneumatic actuator designs occurred. The old generation of valve actuators typically relied on internal springs. In this design, when the actuator moves the flow control element away from its starting position (open or closed), it compresses the internal spring and then uses the energy stored in the spring to move the control element back toward its starting position.

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Mine Safety Moves to the Digital Domain

Electronic data collection, drawing information from myriad sources ranging from ‘wearable tech’ to sensors on the largest production equipment, is making real-time worker safety guidance and incident intervention possible

A successful work-site safety program might be described as a collection of good choices, selected from an ever-growing inventory of systems, products and services and shaped by a company’s resources and commitment. At some time in the past, those choices may have mainly been influenced by how external regulations defined workplace safety. Nowadays, the list of “influencers” related to safety has expanded to include considerations based on workforce age, local culture, literacy and social license to operate, as well as concerns that might have once been fringe issues such as exposure to excessive vibration, fatigue monitoring and the behavioral problems associated with fly-in, fly-out job arrangements, to name just a few.

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Diverter Valves Optimize Backfill Operations

New design sets the standard for backfill system diversion

Underground mines use intricate piping networks, known as backfill systems, to fill stopes after extracting ore for processing. There are three types of backfill commonly used in conventional mining operations — cemented paste (CPB), hydraulic and dry tailings. A backfill system generally consists of a main pipeline dropping vertically 656 ft (200 meters [m]) or more below the surface, where it levels out horizontally and the flow can be split into two different pipelines. This piping structure may repeat at each level of the mine, depending on the project.

The abrasive nature of rock, sand, ore, and chemical backfill slurries pumped through the pipeline systems results in constant maintenance and repairs, directly impacting mine productivity and profitability.

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