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Dwyka Mining Services and Maestro Digital Mine unlocking value in the last mile

Sudbury mining supplier pairing up with South African firm on miner safety

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA — May 9, 2022: Dwyka Mining Services, authorized reseller of Maestro Digital Mine, is a specialized manufacturer of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices to give mining teams up-to-the-minute information about worker safety underground.

Hazardous gasses underground are an invisible threat to mining teams, who often don’t know they are in danger until it’s too late. This gas buildup can be created through the exposed strata, blasting, daily “mucking” and even runaway battery fires on critical machinery. Traditionally, the gas levels are measured by the ventilation system at the return air raises or wearable sensors donned by miners. While this fixed infrastructure has saved countless lives, mobile autonomous inspection on aerial and ground robots of strategic areas before re-entry or in emergency situations are the next step to complete real-time coverage.

In a new development being showcased for the first time at Mining Indaba, Boston Dynamics' Spot Enterprise robot, equipped with Maestro’s IIoT gas sensor which can be operated on mine-site, to detect hazardous gasses like carbon monoxide, without putting mining and ventilation teams in danger. Ventilation and mining teams will easily be able to add different gas sensors onto the connected Zephyr Air Quality Station, capturing critical environmental data to proactively identify gas or temperature challenges.

“The established client base of Maestro Digital Mine environmental sensors will allow us to make the technology mobile for broader applications. We’re very excited about this integration with Maestro Digital Mine as a future partner payload for Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise solution and look forward to continually improving worker safety for whole-of-mine deployment with our new best friend Spot,” says Jamie van Schoor, CEO of Dwyka Mining Services.

Using the Spot Enterprise on-board processing, the data is shared wirelessly over Wi-Fi and gas and temperature sensor readings are captured while the robot is in operation and displayed in real-time via the Maestro Link™ Server application. With the addition of a SLAM scanning unit sensor, like the Emesent Hovermap, readings can be saved with precise coordinates in a high-fidelity point cloud that can be exported and examined in a variety of mining software packages.

“Collaborating with our mud-in-boots partner, Dwyka Mining Services, who are always pushing the envelope with technology integration with pioneering brands like Boston Dynamics, is in turn pushing us to innovate and collaborate with our core purpose of enhancing lives by the pursuit of productivity and safety excellence,” says Michael Gribbons, CEO and cofounder of Maestro Digital Mine. “This relationship will open up immediate opportunities to Dwyka Mining Services and Maestro in Africa and extend mobile environmental monitoring to our current installations at over 170 mines in 38 countries globally using our patented edge based IIoT sensor technologies once the solution is fully embedded.”

“We are excited about extracting value from ‘no-go’ and ‘fly low’ mining areas typical at the majority of narrow reef mining operations in Southern Africa where the use of enterprise GPS-denied drones becomes limited. The Spot Enterprise package allows us to access confined spaces and this information could be used to undertake remote gas inspections so that we can accelerate re-entry to target getting ore to surface sooner without comprising safety,” says van Schoor.

As the doors open to this year’s Mining Indaba on Monday, delegates will be able to see Spot ‘in the metal’ with a Zephyr AQS at booth 908 at Dwyka Mining Services Technology Co.<LAB> in its custom see-through kennel, ready to deploy and dock back onto its charging station ahead of its next mission.

“We are excited to share our new best friend Spot and its amazing capabilities with the delegates of Mining Indaba and the global mining industry. In the spirit of technology collaboration, we have assembled the world’s best mining technologies to be on the stand with us to share and conceptualize end-to-end solutions for maximum impact for our mining clients,” states van Schoor.

“Spot is an amazing platform with almost unlimited applications. The ability to get live environmental monitoring data ‘on the go’ by extending our remote sensing capability to ‘smell’ for hazardous gas detection from our new robot dog is very exciting,” says Rethabile Letlala, operations director at Dwyka Mining Services.

The adoption of underground mining technology is linked closely with the extent of mine-wide wireless connectivity available up to the working face. Generally referred to as the ‘last-mile,’ the underground section from a level access to the blast face, this area is complex to deliver robust wireless coverage. Dwyka Mining Services has delivered a range of successful projects fully deploying Wi-Fi coverage (see case studies) and Spot’s capability to connect over Wi-Fi extends mines’ opportunity to control Spot from surface for remote gas inspection.

Plexus PowerNet™ delivers a high-speed, low-latency digital communication network that provides PoE+ power to Wireless Access Points (WAPs), cameras and any other IP-based device. The system eliminates the need for costly outside fibre-optic contractors and can be installed and maintained by any internal tradesperson. With global success as a last-mile solution to connect mission critical assets, robotic dogs are the next connected device to be connected as we race to the face.

Join the mining fraternity as we walk a mile in Spot’s shoes on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, the morning of Day 3 of Mining Indaba. Joined by the NSPCA as an identified link to Spot’s furry friends, this will involve taking Spot for a stroll from the V&A Waterfront to the CTICC. With over a mile walk (1.6 kilometres for the metric measurement) planned from Nobel Square in the harbour of the V&A, Spot will be sent on its way by Nobel prize winners like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, capturing and streaming live content all the way to the CTICC.

If you want to ‘Come Walk Spot’ Spot in person, Spot will be leaving 08h00 this Wednesday from Nobel Square at the V& Waterfront — get your walking shoes on and join us by registering your interest at [email protected].

About Dwyka Mining Services: Dwyka Mining Services is a pan-African mining technology platform that assists underground mining clients to adopt, and adapt to, evolving technologies with a focus on supporting efforts to improve safety, health and environmental conditions in the collaborative pursuit of the digital mine of the future.

About Dwyka Mining Services Technology Co.<LAB>: As the mining industry plans and begins executing on their digital adoption roadmaps, Dwyka Mining Services will be showcasing leading global technologies at booth 908 as part of our Dwyka Technology Showcase Co.<LAB collaboration.

About Maestro Digital Mine: Maestro Digital Mine manufactures Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) measurement and control instrumentation for the optimization of underground mine ventilation and underground digital networks for last mile communication. Maestro products are made exclusively for the underground mine automation, IT, and ventilation sectors, delivering energy savings and productivity improvements while meeting the highest health and safety standards. Learn more about Maestro’s digital solutions at