Tag Archives: machine learning

Mine Evacuation Best Practices

Best Practices for a Safe Underground Evacuation

Best Practices for a Safe Underground Evacuation

Mine Evacuation Best Practices
Photo Credit: https://www.workplacesafetynorth.ca/news/news-post/mining-safety-report-new-heat-stress-standard-released-ontario

One of the biggest challenges underground mining operations face is visibility of events happening underground from the surface. When monitoring an evacuation situation, this limitation is even more pronounced when ensuring miner safety during an emergency.

Newtrax recently spoke to Michael Place, Unit Manager at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine, about the best practices to follow during emergency evacuations. Michael has spearheaded the implementation of the Newtrax Evacuation Notification system at Granny Smith and will be speaking about the benefits of this digital system at the upcoming IMARC 2018 conference in Melbourne.

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Newtrax: What types of dangers are miners exposed to underground that  could trigger an emergency evacuation?

Michael Place: When it comes to dangers facing miners underground, the most terrifying would be fire. Operating diesel powered equipment in a confined space can deplete oxygen when fire and smoke break out. Some other triggers of an emergency include, but are not limited to, seismicity (underground earthquake), fall of ground, unintentional initiation of explosives, any personnel medical emergency, gas intersection, water inrush, vehicle vs vehicle collision and so on.

 

Newtrax: What are the first 3 things personnel working underground should do when an emergency has been announced?

Michael Place:

  1. Park up equipment off main travel ways
  2. Make their way to the nearest refuge chamber
  3. Maintain radio silence to allow the airways to be clear for communication to the incident scene

 

Newtrax: What are the most important things to think about during an emergency underground?

Michael Place: Accounting for all personnel and if there is an injured person, getting them to the surface as quickly and as safely as possible.

 

Newtrax: How are emergencies in underground mines different from any other emergency alarm?

Michael Place: The sheer size of an UG mine adds a layer of complexity to an emergency. Accounting for personnel and communicating from above ground to underground are some of the hardest things to manage. Generally, the assistance required in an emergency comes from above ground through the form of a medical professional or the emergency response team (ERT).

 

Newtrax: How does technology enable emergency evacuation to be safer?

Michael Place: Accounting for personnel underground without the use of the radio allows the radio to remain clear for communication to the incident scene. Allowing real time tracking of personnel gives the incident controller data like never before to focus on the incident at hand.

 

Newtrax: What kind of advice would you give to other underground mines about best practices regarding safer emergency evacuations?

Michael Place: When it comes to enhancing safety UG during emergency evacuations, the most important aspect is getting all personnel out from UG or to a safe location in a safe manner, as quickly as possible.

Best practice now combines multiple technologies including stench gas, voice over alarm and the Newtrax Evacuation system to ensure communicating to all personnel that an emergency in in place is done as fast a possible. Investing in technology to enhance safety in UG mines ensures everyone goes home safely every day.

Learn how Big Data, IoT, and Predictive Maintenance can help you?

Contact a Newtrax Expert to answer all your questions on how our custom solutions can integrate seamlessly with your underground mining operation.

Underground Mine is the Future

Will underground mining replace surface mining in the future?

Will underground mining replace surface mining in the future?

Underground Mine is the Future

A wave of influential factors – including economic, political, environmental and technological advances – strongly suggest that underground mining will be the miner’s method of necessity in the not-so-distant future.

Mineral explorers and project developers are increasingly unable to find economically viable deposits with a proven plan for open-pit mining operations. Many companies currently operating surface mines will be looking towards brownfield underground operations to expand operations and extend mine life.

This, however, is not the entire foundation for the future of underground mining.

Emerging economies across the globe are growing their middle-class populations in bustling urban centers, putting ever-increasing demands on mining operations to produce the raw materials that make modern society possible, from infrastructure to consumer goods.

However, while consumers want a new car, a television and even renewable energy infrastructure, they tend to no longer accept the environmental and social costs that surface mining has on their communities. Policymakers and neighbors of mining operations vocally reject the visual impact of an open-pit, a waste dump and the destruction of habitat it brings during construction and operations.

“They are unwilling to accept the loss of farmland, the possible impacts on ground and surface water, loss of recreational space or the noise and traffic issues stemming from truck traffic associated with surface mining,” according to the research. “Underground Mining for Meeting Environmental Concerns – A Strategic Approach for Sustainable Mining in Future.”

The pioneering work of Newtrax is eliminating the current digital divide between surface mines and underground mines to make operations safer, environmentally sustainable and more profitable.

Big Data is helping to reach ore deposits more economically

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are helping miners reach underground ore deposits more economically.  Digital twinning, first created by NASA, allows geologists and engineers to develop predictive work models using real-time data from the field to test out production scenarios before they are implemented, leading to productivity and environmental improvements.

Real-time data improving productivity

Rio Tinto generates 2.4 terabytes of data every minute from mobile equipment and sensors at its  16 mines, 1,500km of rail, three ports around the globe. Data-driven precision mining powered by machine learning will make the mining industry more profitable.  The data helps miners know how much of the ore has been extracted and which direction it has traveled – key performance indicators vital to driving improvements in the mine. This can be especially helpful in block caving, an efficient underground mining method that uses gravity to force ore to strategic draw points below. Other miners are reducing fuel and energy costs by using smart machines to sort mined material based on set criteria defined by real-time analytics.

IoT technology is making underground mining safer

Working deep within an underground mine is dark, wet and inherently hazardous. Having initially adopted a ‘fast follower’ approach to IoT technology, the notoriously risk-averse sector is finally waking up to the fact that data is now, arguably, its most precious commodity, with 40% of mining businesses now expecting to leverage the technology within the next 12 months.

IoT has the potential to improve safety, automate machinery operation, facilitate predictive rather than preventative maintenance, improve traceability and harness real-time data and analytics.

Equipment performance and maintenance

Unplanned downtime is very costly to mining operations. Mobile equipment sensors give miners real-time health checks of their equipment, including temperature, speed, and vibration. This allows operators to predict when to schedule planned maintenance. In underground room and pillar settings, this can keep an operation in continuous production, avoiding costly shutdowns.

The ability to access this data empowers mining companies to understand the precise manner in which their machines are being used, how well each individual machine is functioning, and can offer predictive suggestions to increase both productivity and profit.

The data mining of today is literally setting the groundwork for the next-generation underground mine that will be powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning capable of producing incredibly productive operations that protect human life and the environment.

Learn how Big Data, IoT, and Predictive Maintenance can help you?

Contact a Newtrax Expert to answer all your questions on how our custom solutions can integrate seamlessly with your underground mining operation.

Using Technology to Increase Safety during Mine Evacuations

Using Technology to Increase Safety during Mine Evacuations

One of the biggest challenges underground mining operations deal with is visibility of events happening underground from the surface.  When monitoring an evacuation situation, this limitation is even more pronounced when ensuring miner safety during an emergency.

The team at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine recently decided to change this by using technology to increase safety.  Newtrax was engaged to provide an underground personnel tracking system using their enabled cap lamps.

Through the Newtrax enabled-cap lamp technology, the Granny Smith Mine was able to improve:

  1. Safety
  2. Performance
  3. Profitability
  1. Improved Safety

The technology incorporated into the Newtrax enabled cap lamps transform the lamp into more than just a Personal Safety Device, it is an integral part of a mine evacuation system. Where the limitations of communication through two-way radio make it difficult to be 100% sure of the miners’ safety during an emergency, the Newtrax Evacuation Notification system is able to position each team member underground in real-time.

All existing Cap Lamps at the Granny Smith Mine were replaced with the Brando Corded and Cordless Cap Lamps with Newtrax Safety Features and a High-brightness Light. This allowed Granny Smith to integrate with the Newtrax Evacuation system which sends an emergency message underground to every cap lamp. When activated from the surface, the lamp lights flash, notifying all employees that an emergency has been initiated. They set up their system to work in parallel with their stench gas system and their voice over alarm.

The Newtrax Evacuation system allows Supervisors and the Emergency Response Team (ERT) to quickly determine the location of all employees below the surface, improving safety.

  1. Improved Performance

Emergency drills are important, and they take time and resources to effect, ensuring that all personnel are accounted for while handling the incident. Mines rely heavily on two-way radio for communication, and in an emergency visibility can be lost when the understanding is only as good as the radio calls made to and recorded on the surface.  

The first ever Newtrax Evacuation test was conducted at Gold Fields’ Granny smith mine on July 31st, 2018 through an underground mock emergency exercise. This is the second time worldwide that the Newtrax Evacuation system was adopted in its full capacity, and the hardware functioned seamlessly.

These systems allow the Emergency Rescue Teams (ERT) to know exactly which miners are in which refugee chambers in the mine, and refocus their energy on those who have not yet made it to their chamber.

  1. Increased Profitability

The Newtrax Evacuation system allows for effective and accurate safety drills. Using Newtrax technology reduces the time and resources needed to effectively execute and complete the drill, leaving more time for production.

The result of setting up the Newtrax Evacuation system in the Granny Smith mine was evident: improved safety, performance and profitability during an evacuation drill. Due to the safety features that the Newtrax enabled cap lamps offer, additional features can be added on to the software as required. These include vehicle proximity detection and full mine employee tracking and positioning through an expanded Newtrax Minehop network.

Talk to an expert today on how to best implement the safety measures your mine requires today.

Improve Safety, Performance and increase Profitability.

Have a Newtrax expert contact you to learn how our Custom systems can integrate into your current infrastructure.

Future of mine safety

The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability through Data Collection

The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability through Data Collection

Future of mine safety

“I think that what we are doing right now at Newtrax is defining the future needs of the mining industry.” Louis-Pierre Campeau, an AI expert with Newtrax Technologies said while describing his role and its impact on mining.

Campeau was the subject of our recent blog on  “How Big Data is Solving Three of Mining’s biggest Challenges”.  Since his role and expertise will have such a huge impact on how the mining industry will conduct business in the future, we took some time to sit down with him and talk about his personal journey, and where he sees his work impacting the mining industry over the next 5-10 years.

  1. Future of Safety in Mines
  2. Future of Mining Productivity and Profitability
  3. Future of Data collection for mining

The Mining Industry is very niche, what inspired you to branch off into Mining Engineering?

“I always knew that I wanted to go into engineering, but I wanted to do something different and unexpected.” Said Louis-Pierre who took Mining Engineering with Polytechnique. He has found the mining industry to have become much more of a passion than expected.

The new reality will make it easier to foresee possible risks and prevent them...

1.  Safety in Mines

How will the algorithms you are developing impact safety for the underground mines of the future?

“The new reality will make it easier to foresee possible risks and prevent them.  Predictive maintenance would be the best example of this” explained Campeau. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, companies with a 9% reactive maintenance rate had a recordable incident rate of .1%, while those with a 64% reactive maintenance had a recordable incident rate of 4.3%.

These statistics highlight how having reliable equipment is safer.  Interpreting real-time data on your equipment and how they interact in the mining environment keeps everyone safer in the mine.  These algorithms are preparing today for the future needs of safety compliance in safety and prevention.

2.   Mining Productivity and Profitability

How do you see the shift toward technology impacting the future of Underground Mining profitability?

Louis-Pierre explains how productivity in mines is lower than in other industries, that working underground creates a gap of knowledge transfer between supervisors of different areas of the mine in real-time.  “Decisions are made while there are still variables which are unknown. Solutions like what Newtrax offers makes it possible to have a global view of situations for better decision making.” There are serious cost savings when you can make important decisions with a full and clear picture in mind.

3. Data collection for Mining

Once mines are collecting data and digitizing their systems and fleets, what’s next?

Mines have started digitizing their fleets and collecting data.  This is where data contextualization comes in. Through the fleet and network agnostic systems at Newtrax, the data collected can be connected and contextualized.  Louis-Pierre explains “Being able to have the full context of any data will bring more possibilities. Using trends and algorithms trained by multiple mines to predict events in any given mine.”

Mining will be much more calculated in the next 5 – 10 years, this means knowing exactly what is going on under the surface from to make the mine safer, more profitable and understanding how all of these elements interact with each other to have the most productive operation possible.

Digitally transform your operation today!

Speak to an expert about how with Newtrax you can monitor data in real time, improving Safety, Productivity, and Maintenance.

How Big Data is Solving Three of Mining’s Biggest Challenges

How Big Data is solving three of mining’s biggest challenges

Blog_BigDataSolvingMiningChallenges

Advancements in Industrial IoT systems have made data collection in hard to reach places such as underground mines more accessible than ever before. Thousands of sensors can now automatically upload millions of data points, revealing potential insights that were previously unattainable.

The pioneering work that Newtrax is investing in to collect this data is on the forefront of the digital transformation that the mining industry is going through, helping mining companies around the world solve their three biggest challenges:

  1. Increasing Safety while optimizing productivity
  2. Reducing costs
  3. Reducing waste to increase sustainability

However, while invaluable, all of this data can quickly become overwhelming.

To sift through the data-noise, Business Intelligence (BI) analysts can interpret past data to understand the historical performance of a business, while Machine Learning (ML) algorithms can analyze the past data (trends or patterns) to make future predictions.

Louis-Pierre Campeau, Ph.D. candidate and expert in mining optimization joined Newtrax to help us do the latter.

“If you’re on the sidelines waiting for the right moment to enter the world of Big Data and Machine Learning, you could easily get left behind,” Campeau said. “The bigger the datasets you start building now, the better equipped your Machine Learning algorithms will be five years from now, giving early adopters an incredible competitive advantage.”

For a typical large-scale operation, the mine accounts for a third or more of total operational cost. Some mid- to late-stage mines can expect capital and operational costs to double in the next five years as they navigate geological, operational and regulatory challenges.

That’s why operators of Tier 1 assets are accelerating their investments in data collection and analysis capabilities to be better prepared for the wave of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

The Big Data collected underground through IoT systems will solve mining’s biggest challenges in the following ways:

 

1. Through the data collected from people working underground, Machine Learning algorithms will be able to clearly identify trends in dangerous and hazardous situations based on past behaviour and incidents. This will enable mine management and the Health & Safety departments to take preventive measures to significantly reduce the risk of accidents and fatalities underground.

2. The data collected from mobile equipment, such as tire pressure and engine performance, will enable the prediction of maintenance so precisely that time and cost associated to unplanned maintenance will be significantly reduced, or even practically eliminated. The better we can predict the previously unpredictable, the more productive the mine will be.

3. The environment, such as water, ground and gas levels, are also very powerful data points that can enable the mine to significantly reduce waste and mine with precision. By collecting, analyzing and interpreting historical data on the environment, underground mines can increase the safety of their workers and significantly reduce waste for a more sustainable mining operation.

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Is it time to go Big Data?

Big Data is, well, really big. It can be overwhelming for companies to determine where to start. Newtrax is well-positioned to provide the services, the technology, and the coaching to guide mining companies on their Big Data journey. Our staff of engineers, technology experts, and data scientists are here to help you become the industry’s next data-driven underground mining operation.

Using Big Data will help your underground operation.

Get in contact with a Newtrax expert.  Learn more about how Big Data can increase safety, reduce costs and increase overall sustainability.

Shedding Light in Underground Mines

Demystifying Artificial Intelligence: Will AI Shed Light in The Darkest Spots of Underground Mining?

Demystifying Artificial Intelligence: Will AI Shed Light in The Darkest Spots of Underground Mining?

The mining industry is being transformed by technological advances in both standard digitization and artificial intelligence (AI). Digitalization in safety and production allows mines to work more efficiently, saving hours of labor and operating costs. In many of the world’s largest companies, artificial intelligence is currently being utilized and integrated into almost all aspects of the job.

Mining technology is advancing at an exponential rate and proving itself to be irreplaceable in production and operations management. As this technology merges with our daily lives there are a number of common concerns that must be addressed.

Since the introduction of self-driving cars, experts and consumers have questioned the safety of allowing artificial intelligence to replace humans. The consensus seems to have emerged that these technologies can be more accurate at assessing risk than a human being and can even be better at resolving the situation. Despite the benefits, there are a handful of concerns from industry managers and executives about their implementations.

When addressing these concerns, however, we find optimization of productivity as a major benefit of implementing an AI system. It can help by suggesting the most effective ways to manage:

  • Personnel
  • Maintenance
  • Emergencies
  • Geotechnical Mapping

We had the opportunity to interview Jean-Marc Rousseau, the Director of Technology Transfer at the Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO), our newest partner.  He gave us an inside look on how AI will progress in the future and how the mining industry can implement these new technologies.

Newtrax: How is AI being regarded within the mining industry?

Jean-Marc: I look at it from this perspective: we are now able to have autonomous vehicles running in cities without a driver. Because of this I certainly can foresee in the future that new mines will be operating completely automatically, with self-driving vehicles. There will certainly be someone in control above ground, but there will fewer miners underground. If a self-driving car can be trusted on the streets of a city, machinery should also be trusted to drive through a mine.

AI is also able to solve many common productivity problems that arise in a mine. For example, there are many hours of work that are lost when a machine breaks down. One thing that AI could do, with enough data, is it could predict when equipment will need maintenance. This will help companies by saving them time and allowing them to fix problems before they happen.

Newtrax: What are some misconceived notions people in the mining industry have about AI?

Jean-Marc: Not everyone understands AI in the same way. Most people have limited knowledge but the most important thing to understand in AI is what we call “deep learning.” Deep learning, simply put, is when the machine learns by example.

An expert in the field can help the AI machines learn by giving them examples of different situations, and then the machine will copy what it was taught. This is how self-driving cars learn how to drive and how Google Translate learns languages.

Deep learning is what will enable mining machines to make real-time decisions. They will learn what to do through simulations and will be able to react appropriately just as an experienced operator would.

Newtrax: What is the ROI that mining companies should keep in mind when considering the implementation of AI technologies for an underground project?  How does the AI help make decisions easier?

Jean-Marc: To start, it possible for AI technologies to learn geographical mapping. It can learn where a company is most likely to find mineralization in exploration phases. It is able to analyze a map and if it has enough data, can learn from where experts were successful in previous attempts.

AI can also help companies by saving them time and money in operations. It will look at the data and make quick, effective decisions. This will help companies cut downtime of machinery, keep productivity high, and help mitigate unpredicted events.

Newtrax: Where does the responsibility lie for researching and providing AI technologies in the mining industry, in regards to the private sector and other academic or research institutions?

Jean-Marc: I think the mining industry must get involved. The software is publicly available for anyone to use. There are even AI scientists that have released their own software and algorithms. The only thing that is not public is the data that these AI machines must learn from. This is how the machines will learn how to be effective and make good decisions through the deep learning the data offers.

So educational institutions can help mining companies if it is a partnership. You can’t have one without the other.  We are able to come up with algorithms that will help these companies but they mean nothing without having the data to implement.

CIM 2017

Newtrax & IVADO Host the First Artificial Intelligence Workshop at CIM 2017!

Newtrax & IVADO Host the First Artificial Intelligence Workshop at CIM2017

Join us for the first Artificial Intelligence workshop at CIM 2017, hosted by Newtrax and IVADO on May 1 at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal.

CIM 2017

How Can Artificial Intelligence Benefit Your Mine?  

 

Special Guest Speaker Jean-Marc Rousseau, Director of Technology Transfer for IVADO  will guide us through the latest AI concepts and their potential to optimize underground mines.

Newtrax and IVADO believe the combination of high-quality datasets with world-class AI expertise can deliver powerful decision-making tools for the underground hard rock mines of the future.

Join us as we uncover the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence in the context of mining operations management.

May 1, 2017 – 12:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m.

Room 511B – Palais des congrès de Montréal

1001 Jean Paul Riopelle Pl

Montreal, QC H2Z 1H5 

artificial intelligence 2

Newtrax partners with world-leading AI research center

Newtrax partners with world-leading AI research center to discover new insights in underground hard rock mines

artificial intelligence mining

Montreal, QC – March 1, 2017 —  Newtrax Technologies Inc. (‘Newtrax’) – the leading provider of safety and operations management systems for underground hard rock mines announced it has partnered with the Montreal-based Institute for Data Valorisation (IVADO). Together, they will create new value for existing customers with the big data generated from Newtrax systems installed around the world.

Jean-Marc Rousseau, Director of Technology Transfer for IVADO, said “the customer problems Newtrax is trying to solve and the datasets they have are a perfect fit for the expertise of our deep learning and operational research hubs”. Deep learning, the subset of artificial intelligence focused on teaching machines to find and classify patterns in mass quantities of data is now the cornerstone of growth for Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and a host of other Silicon Valley companies.

The world’s largest concentration of independent artificial intelligence (AI) researchers and several of their pioneers happen to be based in Montreal, Quebec. Momentum is building for the city to become the global hub for deep learning expertise. In 2016 alone, the Canadian government and the Quebec government, together with the private sector community, announced investments of more than $230 million in Montreal universities to create a learning hub to explore AI and big data.

Google also recently opened a deep learning & AI research group in Montreal linked to its Google Brain group in Mountain View, California. Shibl Mourad, the head of engineering for Google’s Montreal office, says the company hopes to help turn the city into a “super-cluster” of AI knowledge that will attract corporate investors, burgeoning startups, and researchers. He said much of the credit goes to Yoshua Bengio and his colleagues, whose research over the last decade has put the city ahead of its competitors.

Alexandre Cervinka, CEO of Newtrax, said “since our headquarters are in the middle of what is becoming the Silicon Valley of AI with the world’s largest number of independent data scientists a stone’s throw away from our R&D center, we are well positioned to leverage locally what globally is a very scarce talent pool”.

Breakthroughs in AI have historically been constrained by the absence of high-quality training datasets, not by algorithmic advances. Rapid progress in machine vision, language translation, and games only occurred after relevant and specialized big data became available.

In this context, Newtrax and IVADO are confident the combination of high-quality datasets with world-class AI expertise will deliver powerful decision-making tools for the underground hard rock mines of the future.

 

Find out more about us here.