Narrabri gets talking

WHITEHAVEN Coal’s Narrabri North mine in the Gunnedah Basin, New South Wales, has gone digital for its underground communications and tracking.
Narrabri gets talking Narrabri gets talking Narrabri gets talking Narrabri gets talking Narrabri gets talking

The Coppabella coal mine in Queensland's Bowen Basin supplies 30% of the global pulverised coal injection market.

Angie Tomlinson

Two Mine Site Technologies systems are being installed at the mine – the ImPact underground Ethernet/Wi-Fi Network and the PED Transmission System. The infrastructure will be installed at the mine late next month.

The communications infrastructure and tracking solution combines a digital communication network and the ultra-low frequency PED system to cover both safety and day-to-day management requirements.

“We selected MST as we wanted the latest in digital infrastructure and applications integrated with the proven, mine-wide communications PED technology,” Narrabri electrical engineering manager Tony Bernays said.

The ImPact underground Ethernet/Wi-Fi Network is being rolled out to complement the PED system.

An initial 25 Wireless Network Switches/Wi-Fi Access Points will provide Wi-Fi coverage on the main travel roads at strategic points underground.

The underground digital network will enable a number of internet protocol applications, including tracking the location of personnel underground via radio frequency identification tags in each miner’s ICCL cap lamp and tracking vehicles as they move about the mine via self-contained RFID tags attached to each vehicle.

The network will also allow two-way voice communications and texting via MST’s MinePhone. This is a VoIP handset specifically designed for use underground and is in the final stages of IS certification.

The VoIP telephone system will be integrated into the mine’s general phone system at the PABX to allow a seamless connection between all phone types used onsite.

The MinePhone is also integrated with the tracking system and will support on-screen tracking information and emergency egress information.

The PED Transmission System consists of an 11km antenna designed to provide mine-wide signal coverage to current and future underground developments for the next several years.

The PED will enable one-way paging to personnel wherever they are in the mine, providing a day-to-day management tool as well as a vital emergency communication system should an emergency arise.

ICCL Cap Lamps are the devices where the two communication technologies converge for the end user.

The ICCL unit incorporates Wi-Fi RFID Tag and PED Text Receiver to operate from each of those independent communication infrastructures.

The system also supports the extension of the use of the tracking system data to provide an automated traffic management system.

This automated traffic control will operate for transport vehicles travelling in the drift into the mine.

MST’s Denis Kent said the combination of two communication technologies to provide a complete communication solution at a mine had been growing over recent years.

“While most coal mines in Australia already have PED installed, as they deploy new digital technologies such as ImPact, they are retaining and expanding PED for redundancy and its ability to work without multiple network elements underground,” Kent said.

“The two systems complement each other well, and are brought together in the ICCL, of which more than 11,000 have now been shipped.”