Remote Mining Operation Uses Satellite to Protect Workers and the Environment

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A multi-national mining corporation runs the longest continually operating sand mine in Australia. As part of operations, regular measurement of water quality and levels of bores is required to meet government regulations. Monitoring is also necessary to minimize any negative effects on the environment.

Monitoring, while necessary, can be problematic at the remote mining location. It is very isolated and out of cellular range. Because of the remoteness, it is both expensive and dangerous to send workers in to track the disposal of contaminated water, riverbed degradation, bank erosion, water table levels, and stability of channel and groundwater systems as well as monitor the sand mining methods. The mine it is only accessible by foot and the route is treacherous due to thick vegetation and venomous spiders and snakes. In addition, high temperatures expose workers to the risk of dehydration. In the case of emergency, help and rescue can be difficult and time-intensive.

The mineral and metal extraction company turned to Pacific Data Systems, a provider of remote monitoring solutions in Australia, to deliver a comprehensive, end-to-end solution capable of collecting, processing and transmitting the required field data to a central location without human intervention at the mining site. SatVue, the solution designed in-house by Pacific Data Systems, incorporates high-accuracy water sensors, solar technology and a web-based interface using ORBCOMM’s satellite technology and the IsatData Pro satellite network

The SatVue system is self-sustaining. A built-in solar panel provides power, while a backup battery ensures operation for up to two weeks without sun. The satellite terminal is IP67 certified and designed to withstand harsh environments, extreme temperatures and high humidity. As designed, the installed equipment and corresponding services require minimal onsite maintenance and support.

Customizable to meet specific requirements, the programmed system monitors specific parameters and thresholds and sends periodic reports to the operations center. If a sensor detects any irregularities or sub-optimal conditions, SatVue sets off automatic alarms. This alerts the appropriate parties to initiate corrective measures through the two-way capabilities of the ORBCOMM satellite terminal and network. This allows operations to control field equipment and make changes to the settings without sending workers to the site.

The operation center now has access to historical and real-time data any time, which enables greater operational visibility and provides information required for planning strategies. The automation of readings also enables the mining company to reduce the number of field visits and gain significant payroll savings. The company is also improving worker safety, meeting occupational and public safety protocols, and minimizing insurance costs including those associated with employee liability claims.

Satellite-based remote monitoring delivers valuable data easily and economically in areas where traditional means of communications are not available.

Originally appeared in Remote Magazine.

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Lina Paerez

Lina Paerez is Senior Director of Product Marketing at ORBCOMM. She is responsible for the strategic positioning, messaging and deployment of new products and services. Lina has over 12 years of experience in marketing, sales and market development for the Telecommunications industry.

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