Real-Time Rock Hazard Identification and Loose Rock Removal Innovations

Towards the elimination of fatalities from Falls of Ground

The Minerals Council South Africa in association with The Mandela Mining Precinct is looking for innovators/experts who can provide technologies for rock hazard identification and safe removal

Application Deadline
October 12th, 2022
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Summary

Background

The South African mining industry is currently challenged by a regression in safety performance. A 2021 investigation into the leading causes of fatalities indicated that fall of ground (FOG) related incidents are a key area of concern, accounting for 22 of the 60 overall fatalities for 2020. Falls of Ground (FOGs) have traditionally been the largest single contributor to fatalities and injuries in the mining industry. At present that trend has been cautiously encouraging with a reduction to 3 FOG fatal accidents in 2022 to date. Despite the improvement, one fatality is one too many and it highlights that problem of FOGs still requires attention.

This challenge is an invitation to identify and implement new technology that will enable the development of user-friendly solutions for the South African mining Industry. These innovations must firstly be useful in improving geological confidence at the face and reducing errors in the identification of geological risks. Secondly it must make the underground mining environment safer during the removal of loose rocks after blasting and during cleaning before workers enter the area for drilling.

Partnering for innovations in identification and removal of loose rocks technologies

The Minerals Council South Africa and the Mandela Mining Precinct, and their partners, have dramatically shifted the visibility of innovation in mining in South Africa and aims to continue making progress in the arena, with projects such as this one. 

Part of the Minerals Council strategy is the Elimination of Falls of Ground Action Plan (FOGAP), which aims to make the underground mining environment safe by eliminating Falls of Ground.

Complementing the FOGAP, The Mandela Mining Precincts’ SAMERDI strategy (the South African Mining Extraction, Research, Development and Innovation strategy), includes a programme, the Advanced Orebody knowledge (AOK) programme, which focuses on the identification of geological structures; thereby reducing risk and enabling the safe removal of loose rocks among others.

Increased research and technological developments in these two focus areas, have the potential to significantly reduce FOG related incidents. The Minerals Council South Africa and the Mandela Mining precinct aim to promote progress in the arena, through the initiation of projects such as this one.

This challenge is championed by two partner mines: Sibanye-Stillwater and Impala.

Challenge

This challenge is an invitation to identify and implement new technology that will enable the development of user-friendly solutions for the South African mining industry for safer identification and removal of loose rocks upon entry or re-entry into underground mining excavations. Two types of innovation are being sought:

(1)  Real-time rock hazard identification: An innovative tool which will improve geological confidence at the face and reduce errors in the identification of geological risks. Entry examinations in underground excavations currently rely on workers’ visual and audio inspections of rock (the latter through sounding the rock with a pinch bar and hearing the type of sound the rock makes)

(2)  Loose rock removal: A tool to make the underground mining environment safer during the removal of loose rocks after blasting and during cleaning before workers enter the area for drilling.

The innovations developed through this challenge, will need to fit within either, or both, of these two categories. 

Detailed Challenge Brief

What's in it for you?

If selected as a finalist, you will have the opportunity to showcase your technology publicly and receive significant brand exposure through project and media partners.

 The SAMERDI collaboration initiative, enabled by the Mandela Mining Precinct, allows innovators to test new and/or perfect their existing technologies by using the newly established Maseve test mine. In addition to this test mine, you will be provided access to the champion mines for initial testing and piloting, giving you long term market traction, and a business case to sell to other clients within the mining industry.

Innovations selected to take part in phase 2 and 3 of this programme will be supported financially with up to R1m of R&D funding from the FOGAP R40m R&D fund.

 Finalists will showcase their solutions at a virtual demo-day, helping provide access to key decision makers in the mining industry, enabling market access and a free platform to market your solution to potential clients.