The Cave Tracker technology uses 3D position systems to track sensors in a block cave that move along with the ore, with the aim of optimising the flow of caved material.
“It will enable real-time mapping of cave material movement, which can be used to minimise dilution and maximise recovery from caves,” CRCMining hard rock and surface mining program leader Dihon Tadic said.
“Monitoring the material flow in block caves has not been possible previously, leading to poor control of block cave operations and sub-optimal outcomes.”
“The technology will assist in development of improved caving models, which will enable miners to design better cave layouts, ultimately improving mine safety and productivity.”
Rio Tinto geotechnical engineering and cave management general manager Andre van As said the technology would have a wide application in the industry.
“The real value is in preserving the security and integrity of the resource,” he said.
“By monitoring the flow of material in real-time we can potentially minimise the dilution in recovering ore from the block cave, thereby improving performance. The technology will also significantly improve safety, and enable better management of the mine.”
CRCMining established the concept for the Cave Tracker before inviting Newcrest and Elexon Electronics to develop the concept into a commercial cave tracking system.
With Rio Tinto joining the partnership, CRCMining said the development was on track and testing in several operational mines was set to start this year.