What use is mining

Sensor development advances mining

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A merger of the universities RWTH Aachen, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, TU Clausthal and Montanuniversität Leoben is intensifying research on automation in mining and tunneling. In the future, intelligent mining machines will select the rock "by ear".

"Automation in mining is one of the most pressing goals for an efficient and safe supply of mineral raw materials of the future. And sensor technology is the basis," says Thomas Bartnitzki, senior academic adviser at the Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies (AMT) at RWTH Aachen University. There the "RockCutting" research group is developing a sensor system in which an autonomously working extraction machine can decide which material to extract. The most important "sensory organ" of the machine will be its hearing, says Bartnitzki. You will be able to hear what types of rocks are in the depths.

2017 | OriginalPaper | Book chapter

Metallic raw materials - minerals, mining and fortification

Solid, i.e. pure metals occur in nature, e.g. B. Au, Se, Te, but also Fe from meteorites, are of little importance for industrial supply. In order to be able to work with metals, ores have to be mined and ...


The Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies (AMT) of the RWTH currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the European Rock Extraction Research Group (Eureg), which changes every year. This group is an amalgamation of the universities RWTH Aachen, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, TU Clausthal and Montanuniversität Leoben. Together, within the framework of Eureg, they want to intensify research in the field of rock loosening in mining and tunneling; In December of this year the first "International Conference on High Performance Mining" will take place in Aachen.

The importance and consumption of mineral raw materials will increase in the future, as both the globally rising standard of living and digitalization require them. Mineral raw materials are therefore indispensable building blocks of the global economic cycle. "Arthur Maurer, Susanne Strobl, Robert Holnsteiner and Christian Reichl in" BHM Berg- und Hüttenmännische Monatshefte ", edition 2/2018

Decentralized radio networks for more security

The mining of raw materials should not only become more efficient, but also safer. The Technologie-Zentrum Informatik und Informationstechnik (TZI) of the University of Bremen is cooperating with the South African Wits University in Johannesburg to develop sensors for locating missing mine workers. More than 80 people died in mining accidents in South Africa last year - worldwide experts estimate more than 10,000 deaths in mines every year. Up until now there was no solution to quickly locate missing miners because conventional cellular phone technologies do not work underground - especially not under mountains of rubble.

Mining is a hazardous occupation due to the significant numbers of accident in developed and developing countries. In the US, 8 fatalities and 1305 serious injuries were reported in coal mining industry in 2016. In Western Australia, during 2012 to 2016 there were 14 fatalities and 312 of the 388 lost time injuries were classified as serious in all mining industries. In Indonesia, 8 fatalities and 54 serious injuries were reported during January to October 2017 in all mining industries. "Baiduri Widanarko, Robiana Modjo, Julia Rantetampang:" Risk Factors Associated with Work-Related Fatigue Among Indonesian Mining Workers "in" Proceedings of the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2018) ", page 1029.

At the Technology Center for Informatics and Information Technology (TZI) at the University of Bremen, the Communication Networks working group, headed by Anna Förster, is working on the development of decentralized networks that will in future also establish reliable communication links in mines. In cooperation with the partners in South Africa, a system of nodes was created, which should now enable access in all corners of a mine. The miners wear a sensor on their body that automatically transmits their exact whereabouts. "Even if the connection is broken in the event of an accident, the last position of the person affected can be determined at any time," says Anna Förster.

Vital body functions can be observed

The system uses a low radio frequency, which is significantly more robust than the normal WLAN network. This goes hand in hand with a reduced bandwidth, i.e. a smaller amount of transferable data, but there is still scope to observe vital body functions or the oxygen content in the blood in addition to the position of the miners, according to a message from the TZI. The system successfully mastered the first tests - in the basement of Wits University, which has recreated the surroundings of a mine there. Now the system is to be further developed for use in a real mine.

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