At Cannington, we have trialled two technological solutions to improve the safety and performance of our underground activities.
The world’s first autonomous drone flight underground
While drones are commonplace in the mining sector, using them underground is not typical.
The use of drones in underground operations had all but been ruled out due to the small spaces to manoeuvre, lack of GPS navigation capabilities and other underground conditions such as dust and moisture.
In a world first, Cannington has partnered with a research team at CSIRO to test a drone in our underground mine.
The “Hovermap System” uses LiDAR laser and an on-board computer with an autopilot system.
LIDAR is a remote surveying method that measures light pulses reflected from a target with a sensor to measure distances.
This intelligent drone manoeuvres underground using LiDAR for guidance while producing a 3D map that can be manipulated and used to take measurements.
The drone produces complete 3D images, providing valuable information that enables us to significantly reduce our workers’ exposure to potentially dangerous voids.
Following this successful trial, the drone is now being used to complement existing methods for scanning stopes and mapping underground access roads.
Optical laser scanner
Looking to improve ground movement measurement techniques, our team at Cannington have installed an underground laser scanner.
The scanner is an optical sensor that measures displacement in an area with a 270 degree field of vision and is placed in locations where it is critical to know if the ground has moved.
The scanner is so accurate that it can detect movement to the sub-millimetre.
It does this by scanning an area and sending a live feed to the geotechnical engineers who monitor results on the surface.
The data is used to produce a heat map which shows exactly where there is ground movement.
In areas with infrastructure, such as the shaft and crusher chamber, having early information about ground deformation is vital to prevent incidents.
The scanner can provide detailed real-time data from areas that are often difficult to access and has improved Cannington’s monitoring of risks relating to earth movements.