Tunnels, rooms and stopes in underground mines are often subjected to substantial pressure, which increases the deeper the mine goes. Seismic activity and other natural phenomena can also increase the stresses and strains to which the inner parts of an underground mine are subjected.
Under these circumstances, convergence (and other types of distortion and deformation) is a very real risk. Like any of the other factors that have the potential to affect the safety or disrupt the productivity of an underground mine, the best way to deal with convergence is to manage it, and a key part of managing it is monitoring.
Mobile convergence monitoring is a practice that is gaining popularity among engineers working in underground mines for a number of reasons, one of the most important being the ability of some scanners to rapidly and accurately scan sections of a mine without causing any significant disruption to ongoing operations.
When convergence does start to occur within an underground mine, the speed with which this is noticed and acted upon can make a world of difference. Because mobile scanners can scan large areas of a mine within a short space of time, regular scanning of vulnerable or high-risk areas is possible and practical. Each can then be automatically compared with the previous one of the same area and any changes noted and immediately reacted to.
Mobile 3D mine scanners, for example, the uGPS Rapid Mapper™, make it easy to practice continual mobile convergence monitoring – which helps to keep the mine productive and safe all the time.