Assessment and detection of loose rock hazards in underground metal mines using thermal imaging.
2014 SME Annual Meeting & Exhibit (SME 2014): Leadership in Uncertain Times. Englewood, CO: Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc., 2014 Jul; :666-672
Fall of ground accidents continue to be a source of injury in underground metal mines. MSHA accident statistics indicate that most rock fall accidents occur at a new face where drilling and blasting methods are used. Removing loose rock by scaling is imperative to removing the potential for rock fall injury. Detection of potentially loose rock could improve the scaling process and result in fewer rock falls. Infrared thermal imaging cameras were investigated as far back as 1966 as a tool for loose rock detection. Early on it was clear that sensitivity (e g. detectable temperature increment) is a key factor in this application. Both pixel resolution and temperature resolution have greatly improved with modern instruments. This paper describes an evaluation of modern infrared thermal imaging camera technology to detect loose rock conditions at six underground metal mines in the western U.S. It was found that thermal images provide a high resolution visual discrimination between loose rock and intact rock. However, detecting loose rock was difficult in cases where the rock and ventilation air were at the same temperature. Loose rock was detected when rock was both warmer and cooler than the ventilation air temperature. Warm rock with cool ventilation air provided the best conditions for detection.
Mining-industry; Underground-mining; Accidents; Injuries; Metal-mining; Rock-falls; Thermal-properties; Ventilation; Temperature-effects
2014 SME Annual Meeting & Exhibit (SME 2014): Leadership in Uncertain Times