Mining Telephone

This article considers how VoIP Mining Telephone / Mine Phone Systems can be used to improve mining production and safety whilst reducing costs. It will also look at critical issues to consider when installing an effective underground mining communications system.

A challenge for the Mining industry

Mining operators are faced with three key objectives: 1. Increase production output from the mine, 2. Reduce operational costs, and 3. Improve safety.

In order to increase production, a mine site owner has to focus his/her attention on speeding up the drilling/ boring, whilst removing bottle-necks when it comes to delivering the metals quicker to the surface. A mine site owner is also tasked with reducing operational costs associated with the mine operation. This can be achieved in numerous ways, such as installing automated systems or evaluating other ways of saving money on fixed outgoings such as maintenance bills. Finally, a mine site owner need to be focused on safety at all times, minimising the risk for injuries and fatalities.

Safety has long been a controversial issue in the mining business. While mining today is substantially safer than it was in the previous decades, mining accidents are still relatively frequent and are often very high profile, such as the Quecreek Mine Rescue saving 9 trapped Pennsylvania (USA) coal miners in 2002 or the Copiapó Chile mining accident in 2010 when 33 miners became trapped underneath the surface. The constant threat of technology failure and mining accidents remains a significant concern for many miners throughout the world, including Indonesia, South Africa, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Russia, China, Mongolia, USA, Canada and Australia.

Accidents can easily happen in sub-surface mines, both in terms of failures in construction as well as un-intended exposure to harmful gases, oxygen starvation, heat and dust. An example of a challenging environment, is the TauTona mine in South Africa, which began operation in 1962. By 2008, the mine reached some 3.9 km underground, making it the deepest mine in the world, employing some 5,600 miners. Air conditioning equipment is used to reduce the heat from 55 centigrades down to a bit more bearable 28 centigrades, but even so, the mine remains an extremely dangerous place to work and an average of five miners die in accidents each year. In the 2008 financial year, four employees were killed at the TauTona mine.

The Answer

The success of any mining operation depends on effective two-way communications. From maximising production and preventing disruptions to ensuring life safety of mining workers, an effective communications tool is one of the most important installations in a subsurface mine.

VoIP mining telephones are essential in order to prevent damage, reduce down-time and to increase production. An IP-based mining telephone / mine phone system is also important for mine site rescue efforts, to deal with injuries, fatalities and entrapment situations. A VoIP telephone installation can also help reduce cost, by virtue of converging voice & data networks and by eliminating large telecom bills.

Norphonic has a history of delivering Heavy Duty VoIP telephones into some of the world’s most challenging areas, ensuring essential voice communications when it is most needed. In the remaining part this article we shall look at some of the issues that needs to be addressed when selecting an effective telephone solution in your underground mining application.

A Typical Underground Mining Communications System

The below figure shows a typical Heavy Duty VoIP Telephone installation within a sub-surface mining environment. Telephones can either be connected in a circle formation to provide a redundant network or in a line to connect directly to a PBX. The distance between telephones can differ greatly in various environments, but it is usually recommended that organisations do not extend beyond 150 meters between telephones for safety reasons.


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