Geotechnical monitoring radar systems company Reutech Mining has been revealed as the winner of the Rock Hazard Identification and Safe Removal Innovation Challenge, an initiative by the Mandela Mining Precinct (MMP) and the Minerals Council South Africa, supported by mining companies Sibanye-Stillwater and Impala Platinum (Implats).
During the first quarter of the year, the Minerals Council and the MMP set out to identify novel solutions in rock hazard identification and safe rock removal for further development, testing and piloting at Sibanye and Implats’ mines, with a focus on the reduction in falls-of-ground (FoGs) and improved worker safety.
A call for proposals in the rock hazard identification category resulted in the submission of solutions featuring ground-penetrating radar technology, thermal and acoustic imaging, light detection and ranging-compatible drones and millimetre-wave synthetic aperture radar imaging for real-time rock mass quality inspection, among others.
In November, a panel of judges representing the MMP, the Minerals Council, Sibanye and Implats shortlisted the top seven submissions. Earlier this month, the shortlisted submissions underwent a final round of judging at a virtual “pitching den” event.
This culminated in the announcement of Reutech as the winner, with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Advanced Internet-of-Things group, Tata Consultancy Services Research, and drone company Flyability being named runners up. Other finalists in the challenge were Stratafy, Ramjack Technology Solutions and RockMass Technologies.
The Rock Hazard Identification and Safe Removal Innovation Challenge was undertaken as part of the FoG Action Plan (FoGAP), a programme developed and approved by the Minerals Council’s CEO Zero Harm Forum, in conjunction with the MMP’s Advanced Orebody Knowledge (AOK) programme.
The FoGAP’s objective is to eliminate FoG fatalities, which have historically been cited as one of the leading causes of worker fatalities within the mining industry, while the AOK programme seeks to improve geological confidence at and beyond the rockface.
“We are incredibly encouraged by the significant reduction of fatalities due to FoGs this year and hope this is a great step toward reaching zero fatalities – but the work is not done,” Minerals Council safety and sustainability senior policy analyst Lerato Tsele said.
MMP director Johan le Roux added that innovation had been shown to directly enhance performance in the environmental, social and governance space – the clearest evidence of this being improvements in health and safety and the significant progress made to date towards achieving zero-harm for the mining workforce.