The Who, What, Where, When, Why, & How of Using Geotechnical Instruments in Underground MinesStaff
Using an array of geotechnical instruments within an underground mine is a highly effective but relatively simple way to gather a lot of accurate data that can be used by mine engineers who are responsible for making decisions that affect safety and productivity.
- Who should be using geotechnical instruments? All mine owners/managers who take the safety of their personnel seriously and want to ensure uninterrupted productivity.
- What type of geotechnical instruments should be used? Some of the most commonly used geotechnical instruments are extensometers (displacement), instrumented cable bolts (displacement, strain, and load), contractometers (convergence and compression, ground movement monitors (general ground movement, and sloughmeters (sloughing or caving).
- Where should geotechnical instruments be placed? In any area that needs to be monitored for factors like displacement, strain, load, convergence, compression, general ground movement, sloughing, or caving – e.g. tunnels, rooms, stopes, shafts etc.
- When should geotechnical instruments be installed? They can be installed when a new mine is built (or new sections added during expansion) and can also be easily retrofitted to existing areas of working mines.
- Why are geotechnical instruments so important in mine safety and productivity management? Because they provide a simple, accurate way to provide meaningful, up-to-date information to mine engineers.
- How should the data gathered from geotechnical instruments be handled? The most efficient way is to connect the instruments to wireless nodes that are then integrated into a mine-wide wireless mesh sensor network.
Effective monitoring helps mine engineers determine the correct levels of support and avoid extremes, i.e. over-engineered solutions that are very costly and make no real difference, or insufficient support that may cost less, but compromises safety and has the potential to disrupt production and damage vehicles and equipment.
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