South Africa and China will look to match – or possibly exceed – Australia’s leading position in underground mine communications and geospatial informatics through the extended mining research partnership between the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and China University of Mining and Technology (CUMT).
Wits and CUMT earlier this month established the Joint International Research Laboratory of China-Africa Mining Geospatial Informatics at a ceremony in Xuzhou, China.
The collaboration, underway since January 2013, has directed research funds into underground communication systems, risk measurement through sensors, risk modelling and prediction of harm, but the new initiative will focus on accurately locating workers relative to mine risks, using GPS-like underground positioning.
“Every day, thousands of mineworkers report for duty and shortly afterwards disappear into the underground workings,” said Wits Mining Institute professor Fred Cawood.
“Once underground, it is hard to protect them from harm because we don’t know what risks they are exposed to – or where and when those risks occur. At the end of the shift, they return – and this is the first time we can check that they are all back safely.”
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