“Applying Today’s Global Technologies to Underground Communications Systems”


John Hood, Brian James,

In order to remain competitive the mining industry must keep up with changes in technology. Many innovative technologies from the mining perspective are commonplace in other industries. A “Global” review of technologies will often reveal existing technologies that can be innovatively applied in the mining industry. Industries, which are rife with proven solutions include, medicine, biotechnology, security, manufacturing, telecommunications, etc. This paper addresses the communications aspect of mining where greater productivity, lower costs and the ability to quickly react to mining related events is obtained through an increase in remote monitoring and operating control. A review of the communications systems in place globally reveals technologies that, with minimal modification, can be immediately applied to the mining environment. We discuss the concept, advantages and implementation of existing communications technology from an industry that is not usually associated with the mining industry. This technology will form the basis of a solid platform on which can be built a state-of-the-art process monitoring, control, and communication system. This lays the groundwork for providing one solution to the underground mining industry’s most difficult problem, establishing a reliable, maintainable and cost-effective underground bi-directional wired/wireless data, video and analog communications system. We need look no further than our own doorsteps to find such a solution. The cable that you see coming from the simple green or brown box on the boulevard into your home contains hundreds of television broadcast channels, FM radio channels and data channels. And if you have a set-top box, you are in control of it all. The Cable Television Broadcast Distribution System suppliers of today are at the leading edge of converging all the different methods of communications onto a common carrier, coaxial cable or fibre optic cable. There is no fundamental difference between providing a reliable communications network to a city/neighbourhood/home/personal computer than there is to a mining operation/underground level/equipment or person.. The principle is the same. Only the application is different. Realizing this, we can capitalize on the efforts of other industrial sectors, to solve our communications problem. Where else can you find a solution to a problem that is mature, having been developed with the input of thousands of engineers, and having hundreds of millions of dollars spent on research and development, manufacturing, distribution, global presence and engineering support.
Keywords: Communications, Control, reliable, broadband, fiber optics, Productivity, maintainable, Cost-Effective, process monitoring, coaxial cable