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How Barrick Cortez utilized Geotechnical Instrumentation and Real-Time Wireless Telemetry to Improve Mine Safety & Efficiency

The world-class wireless system developed by Mine Design Technologies and Newtrax Technologies virtually eliminates manual readings by continuously monitoring over 300 instruments and relaying the data to a central interface at mine operations.

Long term mine planning is particularly challenging at Barrick Cortez. Not only is the mine one of the world’s largest gold operations, but it comes with the added complexity of operating both above and below ground simultaneously.To ensure safety and productivity, Barrick’s geologists and engineers rely on accurate and timely data from over 280 wells and piezometers on surface, in addition to more than 100 hydrology and geotechnical instruments underground.

Monitoring so many data points in the mine required the team to travel regularly to take manual readings. This was a time intensive process and could be quite difficult as many instruments were in remote locations.

Barrick tasked Mine Design Technologies and Newtrax Technologies to help them reduce process time while improving monitoring in real-time.

The solution that Barrick implemented was developed by two leading mining technology firms:


Mine Design Technologies – a leader in the development and deployment of geotechnical instrumentation designed to function in the most challenging mining environments
Newtrax Technologies – a firm specializing in ultra-long life wireless telemetry & networking systems, based in Montreal, Canada.
The MDT and Newtrax solution consisted of a world-class multi-hop wireless telemetry system which continuously monitors sensors and relays the information back to a central web interface.The solution contains three components: Ethernet gateways, MineHop wireless nodes and geotechnical & hydrology instruments.

The combined system is plug-and-play, truly wireless and the batteries last for years, so it’s very simple and does not interrupt production.

Both above and below ground the system works as a mesh, with each node not only collecting data but also acting as a repeater to send data back to the central web server. Each wireless node can monitor multiple instruments and is completely plug and play. It begins sending data to the engineer’s desk as soon as it connects to the mesh network.

Installing a MineHop node is simple. When the node is turned on, it automatically connects to the network. Status LEDs alert users where network signal is strong or weak. The user picks a location where the signal strength is good and mounts the node in place using tie wraps. The process is repeated until netwok connectivity is extended to the target location for instrumentation.Underground installation of a SMART MPBX requires 4 simple steps:

  • 1. Drill a hole
  • 2. Uncoil the instrument and tape it to a grout tube
  • 3. Insert it into the hole and grout to the collar
  • 4. Then connect the wireless node to the sensor’s lead wire connector

Above ground, a single node can monitor up to 4 vibrating-wire piezometers. A wireless node is typically mounted on top of a pole and connected to a piezometer in the well by a 12ft cable.

The final step is to configure the sampling rate, sensor thresholds and email alarms from the web interface.

The resulting system at Barrick Cortez saves time and money, while ensuring that the Mine Engineers and Geologists get the data they need to properly plan for safe and efficient operations.“Some of our piezometers can be in some pretty remote locations here, so having a wireless network allows us to download the data remotely, so that we don’t have to travel to every piezometer and download that data. This allows us to save time, and in the end that leads to cost savings. At Barrick Cortez, we have over 200 wells and piezometers that need monitoring.”

Jeremiah Larocque

Mine Geologist

“It turns a 15-minute commute into a 2-minute commute.”

“Saves us time, allows us to monitor everything constantly…it’s just a plus across the board.”

Luis Rodriguez

Underground Geotechnical

For more information on the Barrick Cortez deployment watch this short video.
For more information on how to put MineHop and SMART MPBX instrumentation to work at your mine, contact:

[email protected] for details.
Brent Croft
Account Manager,
[email protected]