Real-Time Data CommunicationReal-time data communication (RTC) refers to a mode of communication in which all users exchange data instantly with minimum latency. There is a purpose built RTC solution for all uses, including instantaneous transfer of data, voice, video, and supporting applications. With RTC, situational awareness increases, mining efficiency improves, productivity grows, and above all else, the 24/7 visibility of mining activities ensures the mine operates as safely as possible.

Apart from maximizing efficiency and productivity and ensuring mine safety, some of the other benefits of RTC in the mining industry include the following:

  1. Optimum Face Utilisation- Real-time data communication ensures optimum management of mining fleets and personnel. Through better understanding of the activities at the mining face and real-time work assignments, management can ensure efficient utilisation of the production fleet and the mining face. It allows for instantaneous knowledge of problems at the face and fast reaction times to changes that need to be implemented. RTC is a critical component to ensuring a high degree of utilisation of the mining face. 
  1. Maximum Safety & Security- RTC also enhances mining security by live monitoring of entry locations, mobile vehicles, and high-cost mining equipment. Real-time data from geotechnical instrumentation can identify stability problems and allow preventive action to be taken. Likewise, real-time data from gas detection sensors can trigger alarms when certain thresholds are reached. And that same real-time communication can be used to send evacuation signals to workers underground instantaneously.
  1. Improves Coordination and Teamwork- Finally, real-time data communication improves collaboration and teamwork between staff located at the mine face, mobile vehicles, operations control, processing plants, and various other locations. It helps in improving safety, operational efficiency and productivity, thus reducing the cost of mining operations.

RTC is especially critical right at the mine face, as this is where most mining activity takes place and, as a result, where conditions are most likely to change.  Unfortunately, monitoring real-time data from the face is typically also the most expensive, challenging and disruptive to mine operations.  Luckily, technology is starting to play a part.

In many progressive mines, low-voltage underground wireless networks allow data to be transmitted quickly from the face to central monitoring stations without the need for time-consuming manual data collection.  Such technology was recently deployed by Barrick Cortez with exceptional results.  The Barrick solution monitors over 300 instruments, both on surface and underground, using advanced geotechnical instrumentation coupled with an ultra-long life wireless telemetry system.  The system relays data from the face (and throughout the mine) to a central interface at mine operations, virtually eliminating the need for manual readings.

Interested in learning more about the Barrick Cortez deployment? View the full case study.