Can you please describe some deployments?
There are many ways in which radio frequency identification can be employed in the mining sector. I’ve listed several examples below of the types of deployments that have been carried out to date.
Tracking Vehicle Movements
V. M. Salgaocar & Bro., an Indian mining firm that sells iron ore to some of the world’s largest steel mills, has deployed a Near Field Communication (NFC) solution designed to simplify the tracking of trucks from the company’s iron mines to various weigh stations, as well as through the firm’s processing plant (see V. M. Salgaocar & Bro. Mines Automation From NFC-based Process).
Byrnecut Mining, a contractor based in Western Australia, is using an active RFID system to prevent vehicular collisions within the Telfer gold mine in Telfer, Western Australia. In addition to the threat to human health, the financial implications of vehicle damage can be crushing. There are two main vehicle types in use at the Telfer mine: lightweight trucks (generally, Land Cruisers) and massive low-slung trucks known as haulers (or, in Australian parlance, boggers) used to pick up and remove ore once it’s been cut from the mine’s walls. Each lightweight truck is worth roughly US$55,000, while the haulers cost more than US$800,000 apiece. Though it’s unlikely that these would be totaled in a collision, the costs of repairing a hauler can be significant. The RFID system alerts drivers to the proximity of other vehicles (see Australian Mining Contractor Prevents Vehicular Collisions).
International mining group Glencore Xstrata is utilizing a Wi-Fi-based active RFID system to track staff members, improve safety and raise productivity at its Beltana Coal Mine, located in New South Wales, Australia. The company’s coal division has installed 200 active RFID tags into the battery packs of cap lamps worn by the miners. In addition to providing safety benefits, the system also improves productivity, since the technology reduces the amount of time that would otherwise be spent searching for personnel (see Xstrata Mines RFID’s Benefits).
Routing Raw Material
A number of South African gold mines are employing an RFID-based tracking system to ensure that extracted material is not misrouted during the mining process. Goldfields, Harmony Gold Mining Co. and AngloGold Ashanti are all utilizing the system, while the Amplats Group is currently installing it. The solution ensures that material traveling out of the mine on belts is routed properly (See RFID Helps Miners Strike Gold).
Finally, CVRD Inco, a mining and metals company based in Toronto, Canada (now known as Vale Canada Limited), is rolling out a Wi-Fi-based RFID asset-tracking solution made by Finnish firm Ekahau. The company is deploying the solution at its Stobie and North mines, located in Sudbury, Ontario. The RFID tracking system is part of a wider initiative to equip the firm’s underground mines with Wi-Fi access points for communication, asset-tracking and automation applications. Within portions of its underground mines, for example, the firm is now using a Voice-over-Internet protocol (VOIP) communication system (see CVRD Inco Mines Turns to Ekahau to Track Assets, Productivity).
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal