Mining industry taps into new data to increase worker safety

While the majority of mining activities take place underground, severe weather is presenting a growing threat to mining workers, machinery and operations. Lightning strikes endanger workers operating machinery; heavy rains can make mining sites inaccessible, while dangerous heat or cold can also put people and operations at risk.

It is for this reason that mining operators are increasingly turning to advanced weather data and visualization tools to protect workers and critical mining assets, while operating more safely and efficiently around predicted severe weather.

Earth Networks recently launched Sferic Maps and Sferic Mobile – advanced weather visualization, decision support and collaboration products designed to reduce risk and improve operations for organizations across weather-sensitive industries such as mining. Sferic Maps combines the best of Earth Networks weather and lightning observation metrics with powerful data representation, real-time broadcasting, and customized alerting capabilities.

Key for mining operators is the ability of the Earth Networks weather data platform to deliver “nowcasting” during storms for minute-to-minute updates, as well as “forecasting”:

Forecasting:

  • Determine best window of opportunity for heavy machinery operation
  • Plan truck movements around and in the pits (open cast mining), as rain makes for muddy tracks that will get trucks stuck inside pit or, worse, make them slip on exit.
  • Same issue with anything affecting visibility – dust (see below), rain, and fog
  • Determine best blasting window of opportunity around potential lightning and storm events – preventing, amongst other things, early detonation.
  • Determine quality of visibility (dust, rain, fog) around tracks.

Nowcasting:

  • Ensure safety of staff and equipment in and around pits by avoiding lightning, heavy rains.
  • Resume operations on time, as soon as conditions have cleared, to avoid undue loss in productivity.
  • If an automatic weather station (AWS) is installed, fine-tune crane operations depending on wind conditions.

Additionally, users can access the company's team of dedicated meteorologists any time to get real-time analysis of weather conditions in their area.