Our ferroalloys department is currently working on innovative collision avoidance technology for underground and surface mining vehicles. We refer to it as a People Vehicle Detection (PVD) system. The range of challenges at different sites means that we have had to create new techniques and combine different detection technologies. For example, some assets use vehicles that move between our underground mines and the surface, requiring a PVD system with the flexibility to work in both scenarios.

Our proposed PVD system would warn pedestrians of any stationary or moving vehicles around them, while alerting operators to pedestrians and other vehicles.

The system would also automatically stop vehicles upon entering a designated danger zone.

No single technology currently available can provide the data needed to predict “dangerous proximity” reliably, so the PVD uses multiple detection techniques to achieve reliability, accuracy and comfort (ie minimising the irritation of multiple alerts for users).

Underground vs surface work

Drivers have poor visibility in underground working environments, as the vehicles have a very low profile, with a visibility angle typically 180° or less. In contrast, the drive for increased productivity means that surface mining vehicles are generally immensely large, this also prevents full visibility in all directions for drivers.

The PVD system is still in a trial and development phase as at publication; a pilot site has been identified and installation has started. A full trial will be conducted; the system will only be considered for rollout once proven to be successful.