Camera system for remote drilling and bolting catches on
New technology that improves safety and increases productivity at the same time is assured rapid adoption in the mining industry. That’s the case with a remote drilling and bolting application made possible by a camera system supplied by Provix Inc.
The Alliston, Ontario-based supplier of camera systems for industrial applications had its initial success with remote bolting in 2013 using a three camera system installed on an Atlas Copco double boom bolter at Rio Tinto’s Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories.
Driving the trend to remote drilling and bolting are new regulations intended to minimize the danger of rockfalls from unprotected ground and rockbursts under pressure at the face, said Dave Winfield operations manager and president of Provix.
“Our remote video system for jumbos, bolters and Simbas allows operators to have a better view of the face from 200 feet back than if they were directly at the face drilling and bolting,” said Winfield.
The system consists of two ruggedized PTZ cameras – one on each boom – and a fixed camera in the center of the equipment that points straight ahead.
“The cameras we are using have a 36x optical zoom,” said Winfield. “With that magnification, you can identify a person’s face from 400 yards away.We were told by the mine manager at Diavik that their bolting rate increased by 50 per cent after deploying the camera system because of the enhanced vision made possible by the cameras.”
The operator is set up in an office type of environment in a Seacan 150 to 200 feet back from the face and remotely operates the jumbo, bolter or Simba from that location.
Word travels fast in the mining industry, so when several miners from Diavik ended up in Red Lake, mine management at Goldcorp picked up the phone and invited Provix in for a presentation.
“Initially, they did two machines,” said Winfield. “Now, they have four and are looking at outfitting up to six more because of the success of the program. Just this week, one of the systems was down and required repair, so Goldcorp flew up one of our installers on an emergency basis to get it back in operation because they felt it was critical to maintain production before year end.”
At Red Lake, the camera system is used on a MacLean double boom bolter as well as on Sandvik and Atlas Copco equipment.
“There was some initial skepticism on the part of the operators, but we found that they were able to adjust very quickly,” said Winfield. “They were younger guys familiar with video games and the ability to use joysticks. That gave them a leg up on being able to make the transition.”
In late December, Provix installed its first camera system on a jumbo at Vale’s Creighton Mine. The operator of the jumbo sits in a cab manipulating a boom that’s 30-feet long, so with the camera system, he’ll be able to see more effectively, said Winfield.