Cave tracker system pioneering flow monitoring for caving

first_imgIn a breakthrough for underground mining, the world’s first real-time flow monitoring technology for block caves has been developed, enabling real-time measurement of in-cave ore flow. Recent successful trial results look very promising, and the system is likely to help mines achieve significant gains. Underground rock flow within caving operations has a significant direct impact on mining efficiency, economics and safety. The flow of fragmented rock in caving mines, such as block, panel and sublevel caves, has been the subject of numerous studies. A major obstacle in exerting more control over cave mines has been the lack of real-time ore flow measurement.CRCMining has collaborated with Elexon Mining and Rio Tinto to develop the ground-breaking Cave Tracker system. A step-change technology for mining, the system enables real-time measurement of in-cave material movement, whilst the ore is still flowing in the cave.The Cave Tracker technology uses ruggedised beacons and detectors deployed in and around the orebody, enabling real-time 3D tracking of cave material. With capability of monitoring every few days for over 10 years, the system will give a detailed, time-lapsed view of actual underground rock flow.Research and development work is now in its final stages. Prototype systems are currently installed at two major mine sites, including Rio Tinto’s Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia.Underground trials to date have shown good results in detection range and accuracy, which should deliver significant gains for industry. Testing of the Cave Tracker system shows that detectors can detect beacons up to 200 m away through underground rock. Ranges from multiple detectors can be used to determine beacon positions, allowing their 3D movement to be tracked.The ability to measure real time positions of beacons in underground rock allows a number of important caving flow mechanisms and phenomena, such as rilling, dilution entry, cave propagation and cave back position, to be measured during mine production.The availability of real-time material movement information will enable mines to improve control over caving operations, creating a step-change in active cave management. The benefits will be reduced risks and uncertainties involved with caving, and improved mine planning practices, providing immense potential to greatly improve recovery and significantly reduce costs.CRCMining invented the concept for the Cave Tracker, and the system is being developed by Elexon Mining, Rio Tinto and CRCMining. This project is part of CRCMining’s Research Roadmap to solve the mining industry’s grand challenges. For enquiries about this project, contact Dihon Tadic, CRCMining Program Leader, via [email protected]last_img