Global moves afoot

A REAL-time risk-management system for underground mines developed by the CSIRO should be commercially available to the global mining market within a year.
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Nexsys lab. Image courtesy of CSIRO Exploration and Mining.

Staff Reporter

CSIRO has licensed its Nexsys risk-management system to Mining Logic Solutions, which will commercialise the product. A commercial-ready product is expected within 12 months.

Nexsys allows underground mines to interrogate vast amounts of digital information from a variety of sources throughout the mine. Many of these information sources would not normally communicate with each other.

The system analyses this integrated data to provide real-time risk-management and decision support for control-room operators. This includes automatic triggering of response plans if a hazardous condition is discovered.

Nexsys can extract critical data from existing proprietary strata control, ventilation monitoring, supervisory control and data acquisition, and other critical mine monitoring systems. It turns this data into knowledge in real time, a feature that did not exist before.

While its primary benefit is a safety one, there are obvious productivity management applications as well.

The system has primarily been targeted at the underground coal mining sector but can be easily applied to hard rock mines. Coal mining was chosen initially because of the greater inherent risk in the activity.

CSIRO received support from the Australian Coal Association Research Program and the Japan Coal Energy Centre. JCoal gave financial support, participated in the initial research goals and provided test sites in Japan to demonstrate the technology.

CSIRO Exploration & Mining chief

Dr Mike Williams said the agreement with Mining Logic Solutions showed how technologies developed collaboratively by CSIRO and its partners could benefit the mining industry.

“The potential market for Nexsys is not limited to Australia,” he said. “It is ideally suited for export to many other countries, including India, China, the US and Canada.

“Today about 60 per cent of mining software used globally originates in Australia – and Nexsys will help that market share grow.”

ACARP executive director Mark Bennetts said the agreement was another example of how CSIRO could work with industry to develop and commercialise technology.

“CSIRO has created a safety tool that did not previously exist,” Bennetts said. “They recognised it should be made available to the industry as soon as possible and have negotiated with Mining Logic Solutions to make that happen.

“Nexsys will also bring new levels of efficiency to underground coal mines. For example, this technology will enable accidental damage to equipment or breakdowns to be pinpointed and repaired within minutes.

“We will ask operators exactly what they need to know in real time and look at additional ways the technology can be used to streamline mine operations.”

Published in the August 2009 Australia’s Mining Monthly

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