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Argyle Diamond Mine – Case Study


Argyle Diamond Mine is a mature block caving operation in the Kimberley region of North Western Australia, fully owned and operated by Rio Tinto.

With a variety of challenging ground conditions, they required a comprehensive and extensive instrumentation and monitoring system to ensure ground support systems throughout their undercut and extraction levels are working effectively and efficiently.


The solution provided by MDT for Rio Tinto was a world class monitoring system consisting of more than 100 SMART Multi Point Borehole Extensometers (MPBX) and instrumented cable bolts installed throughout drives and intersections, and key infrastructure areas such as underground workshops and crusher chambers. A variety of other instrumentation including vibrating wire stress cells for monitoring changes in stress within the rock mass were also utilised.


Underground Workshop with SMART Instruments installed to monitor excavation support systems

These instruments are all connected to a MineHop multi-hop battery operated wireless mesh provided by MDT and Newtrax Technologies, allowing MineHop wireless nodes to be installed in the immediate vicinity of instrumentation with plug and play connectivity. This network of nodes is then able to relay data via a series of other nodes in the mesh network to an Ethernet location and then up to surface for user access. Each node in the system lasts for years on a lithium battery cell, and the system at Argyle Diamond Mine now consists of more than 60 nodes.


View of the MineHop wireless mesh deployed at Argyle Diamond Mine from the Newtrax web platform


The MDT instrumentation and MineHop wireless mesh that makes up the Argyle Diamond Mine monitoring solution, has now been operating for over 2 years, providing the Geotechnical Engineering group near real time access to data on ground conditions from anywhere on the Rio Tinto network.

This timely data is invaluable in assisting the Geotechnical Engineering and Technical Services departments to make informed operational decisions.

“…your system is so impressive I’m overwhelmed with the ease of installation. The nodes also reach a greater distance than we anticipated.”

Adrian King, Argyle Diamond Mine, Geotechnical Engineering Group