Q&A with Morgan Rody on the Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems project

Morgan Rody – Senior Project Manager, Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems (SIMS) –  will speak at our Luleå Forum on March 27-28 in Sweden. We asked him a few questions about SIMS and about the future of underground mine automation. 

Why are demonstrator projects like SIMS important, especially in the current technological climate?

A demonstrator project ensures that you are producing something nearly immediately useable to the relevant industry, in this case, the mining industry.

Personally, I prefer these types of practical projects where you can use, touch and apply the results in the real world. SIMS will and already has produced real-world results that will be immediately applicable in relevant situations in the current mining industry. Furthermore, technology today is becoming ever more integrated into what we do, and the mining industry is no different. Demonstrator projects allow for a proper plan to be put in place and a thorough execution of the task to make sure it works in the real world.

We pride ourselves on the numerous demonstrations in SIMS and know that these are going to make a real difference in the mining industry when finished in 2020.

What are some challenges unique to underground mine automation?

Right after creating a safe and healthy working environment, I would say the biggest challenge underground is positioning of not just people, but all of the mining equipment used.

Knowing exactly where a fleet of vehicles is and ensuring that they don’t crash into one another is a huge challenge. Throw in a mixed fleet of various competitors and you have a very interesting problem to tackle.

Could you provide an example of an ongoing demonstration project with SIMS?  

The High Powered Boltec task is one example which we have actually finished early! This involves a new and unique method of putting roof bolts into the mine ceiling to ensure a stable and safe rock environment. In SIMS we were actually able to produce a rock bolting system which was 64% faster on average than the market system out today. This is quite amazing!

Another ongoing demonstration is the installation of underground 5G in one of our partner mines as well as a test mine. This is the future communication technology which will replace wifi in nearly all use cases for underground mining.

What do you think sustainable intelligent mining systems underground will look like by 2020?

2020 is just around the corner and I can already tell you what it will be like. There will be autonomous drones which are used for inspection activities, and battery-powered mining machines will do all the heavy work. Blasting will be safer and roof bolting will be safer and faster. Finding bottlenecks in the mining cycle before they occur will become a reality. The mining workplace will be more attractive and safer. There will be less maintenance needed for mining machines. The mining central office will know exactly where all employees and vehicles are underground, and 5G underground communication will be the new standard. Virtual Reality will be used for training, maintenance and safety.

I know all of this as these technologies and more are all being produced in the SIMS project!


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