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An underground mine rescue team must be adequately staffed and equipped with all necessary equipment to comply with legislation and regulations. Click here to read the Mine Safety Handbook. A minimum necessary equipment list includes self-contained breathing apparatuses, together with Soda Sorb for canisters, spare oxygen cylinders, an oxygen pump or cascade system, and a testing kit. Other required equipment includes cap lamps and chargers, multi-gas detectors, lightweight stretchers, first aid bag and supplies, personal protective equipment, a mine rescue trailer for equipment transport, and most importantly an effective portable communication system.

Profitek’s Minelert solutions

PA system

An effective emergency response is best conducted by real time voice communication. The moment conditions change an immediate response should be rendered. Profitek’s Minelert installs public announcement systems as well as the infrastructure that enables workers to communicate with each other on wireless devices. They can enter into open channel groups conversing with push-to-talk capability.

VoIP

Profitek’s Minelert selects Android as their preferred operations platform for its underground voiceover Wi-Fi communication solutions, with GSM functionality fully disabled. Handsets include the intrinsically safe Ex-handy 09 for users who need a more advanced mobile phone but not a smartphone, and the the ML-RC-10, a full touch rugged Android mobile device, a technologically advanced industrial smartphone with 5″ LCD screen, Gorilla Glass 3, and a protective casing to improve durability. The SMART-EX01 has a larger working surface and can be used to input mining data with the use of the Profitek’s Minelert Communicator ANDROID app. All three these devices can be utilized as an Asset Tag Configurator when integrated with Profitek’s Minelert ALM and LPD solutions.

Mining Lost Persons Detection (MLPD)

In 2006 Profitek’s Minelert identified the need for accurate location tracking systems that could seamlessly integrate into existing Ethernet backbones. In partnership with Ekahau (2006-2008), a market leader in real time location system (RTLS) technology, Profitek’s Minelert found that RTLS technology presented serious challenges for mining applications. Inconsistent tracking information made it very difficult to create a triangulation environment in mining haulages. Together with complicated implementation procedures and poor tag battery performance, this costly route did not seem to be the way to go. This led to Profitek’s Minelert active development of the Lost Persons Detection (LPD) system in 2009. The Profitek’s Minelert LPD system is a proximity (zoning) solution and is based on a proven 2.45GHz technology. It has reliable tracking information with the 2.45GHz frequency showing to have the best propagation characteristics for reliable and repeatable tracking accuracy. The system is enabled by the installation of an IEEE 802.3 Ethernet infrastructure that is constructed with hardware by trustworthy brands such as Hirschman. The Ethernet infrastructure makes use of Redundant Line (fiber) Technology. This technology ensures continued communication all across the network even when a fiber optic cable snaps elsewhere in the system. The MLPD also consists of a master controller, a tag controller, active Tags, and an LPD Scanning Unit.

Conclusion

It is of paramount importance that mine operations ensure that their mine rescue teams have the best possible equipment to their availability. Emergency Response Plans would benefit greatly by implementing Profitek’s Minelert solutions as the backbone of their safety operations. On 5 August 2014 an earthquake occurred near the Vaal River operations of AngloGold Ashanti, affecting their Great Noligwa and Moab Khotsong mines at a depth of approximately 8km. With Profitek’s Minelert MLPD in place it took only 20 minutes to locate all 3,300 people working underground that day. Finally it has to be unequivocally stated that without effective training the best equipment solutions will still falter.

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