Mining deaths are, unfortunately, a common occurrence in this industry. In the past eighteen years, over 40% of these fatalities have been linked to collapsed roofs and pillars. In the past three years, there have also been four serious isolated incidents related to collapses alone. This has sparked an urgent study into cave-ins which could revolutionize the mining industry as we know it. However, this isn’t any kind of usual study. It involves innovative tech that could potentially predict structural issues before they occur.
Mining and engineering
Mining requires a whole host of specialist, precision equipment to ensure that the job is carried out safely and effectively. Companies such as Newlands Engineering are renowned for their high-quality equipment in the mining industry all over the world, from Europe to South America. Engineering design is a hugely complex matter which requires great skill and experience to get everything just right, especially in the industry of mining where attention to detail means everything.
Specifics on the study
A recent, groundbreaking study from Virginia Tech, could change the life of miners, their families, and other closely related industries. Researcher Richard Bishop and numerous contributors from the University of West Virginia have been putting their minds to work to see how modern technology and engineering could make the mining industry safer. It is common knowledge that there are a number of tech innovations that are shaping the future of many industries. However, mining is a huge breakthrough that many people will want to hear more about.
Over five hundred million dollars has been granted by the Alpha Foundation to the team in West Virginia. This is to help them study methods that could allow autonomous drones to help prevent and predict any potential roof collapses that may occur underground.
How can emerging technology help?
The aim of this ground-breaking project is to develop a detailed plan of mine layouts and the characteristics of the rock mass which surrounds it. All of this data can be gathered together to create predictions, general guidelines, and an overall view of what is occurring underneath these structures. Hopefully, the database will have enough detail to alert the relevant people of any upcoming hazards. This equipment is clearly very technical and will require plenty of trials to perfect. The ideas are looking promising indeed.
Preventing potential future mining collapses
Bishop, who is heading up the study, has a background in Mining and Minerals Engineering and has experience with previous safety studies regarding structural safety of underground mines. With the use of drones, LED lighting systems, laser scanning equipment, and specialist photography techniques, they were able to assess the strength and structural integrity of many mines. The number one danger of mining is cave-ins. Moreover, this type of research could prevent many catastrophes and deaths in the near future.
The future of the project
It is unclear when this project is going to be completed, but work is already underway. Inspecting these mine structures using specialist engineering and technology could become the number one way to predict threats to life and injury. The global stone mining industry is predicted to increase by $3 billion dollars by 2025. This shows the significance of the work being carried out right now.
Students that are currently studying mining engineering have the opportunity to make history and positively impact the future of mining. Not only can their research contribute to ground-breaking engineering and technological enhancements, but it will also guarantee their job placements after their education has been completed. By assuring the graduates a job, it shows that the department is taking this area of research seriously.
The facilities at West Virginia University are state of the art and are the very first of its kind. The lab scale contains minerals, soil simulants, and more. The scale will assist in the development and building of vehicles and machines by the student for their intended purpose. These initiatives are a huge step towards making changes in the mining industry for good. Although the study may take some time to complete, it will hopefully have a significant impact. This type of hands-on experience seems like a brilliant opportunity for the students. In addition, it will hopefully bring about fruitful contributions to mining industries all across the world.