One of the keys to ensuring safety and uninterrupted production in underground mines is regular, ongoing geological monitoring.
Being constantly aware of the status of working faces, excavations and geological formations within the mine is a vital part of identifying changes or movements that have the potential to endanger personnel, cause damage to equipment, and disrupt production.
Detailed monitoring of specific areas within an underground mine is usually achieved by installing a series of geotechnical and other monitoring instruments directly into the walls and roofs of tunnels, caverns, stopes, and other relevant areas. Many mines are also now adopting the practice of connecting these instruments, via wireless nodes, to a central network, as this makes accessing and using the data for geological monitoring purposes faster and simpler.
A complementary technology that adds another layer of valuable geological monitoring data is the use of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scanners. These laser scanners use pulses of light to accurately pinpoint and display the location of geological features, constructions, equipment etc.
Each pulse forms a single point of data, and millions of these data points can then be used to form an accurate 3D map of sections of the mine. These 3D point cloud data maps are very accurate and can be rapidly assembled if a mobile 3D laser scanner is used (tripod-mounted scanners are also available, but they are much slower). By performing regular scans of parts of the mine and then comparing the data to previous scans, changes in the shape and relative distance of walls, roofs, open faces, etc. can be noticed and acted on, for example where it indicates bulging or distortion that may be indicating a possible collapse or fall.
For this type of underground scanning exercise, the uGPS Rapid Mapper™ is the ideal piece of equipment. This purpose-built mobile underground mine scanner is rugged, low-maintenance, easy to use, and can generate accurate 3D point cloud data for geological monitoring purposes on the move, e.g. while attached to an ATV or other vehicle that is driven through the mine.
Click here for more information about the uGPS Rapid Mapper™