In a previous post, George Burns, our President and CEO touched on a few technologies that are enabling us to operate more sustainably and keep our employees safe. Today we go a little deeper, (underground mining pun intended), on two technologies:
- ventilation on demand, or VOD for short;
- tagging and tracking
We have deployed these technologies, at Olympias, our underground mine in Greece and are in the process of implementing them at Lamaque, our first Canadian mine, and at Efemçukuru, our underground mine in Turkey.
Tagging & Tracking of Personnel and Equipment
Open pit mines, like Kışladağ, use dispatch systems to keep track of people and equipment. Underground, however it’s a different story.
“Historically its been difficult to implement such systems underground, where the communication infrastructure hasn’t been in place to allow for the free flow of digital information back up to surface,” explains George. Eldorado is committed to using technology to improve our business and protect our environment. Over the past year, we have been installing the infrastructure needed to digitally track our people and equipment. “The benefits far outweigh the implementation costs,” says George. “Tagging and tracking helps productivity, mine efficiency, and reduces energy consumption, and most importantly the safety of our workers.”
At Efemçukuru, we tag and track both equipment and people to collect data that can be used to implement strategies that reduce risk. “This technology helps us to take action to minimize the chance of collision between equipment and people,” explains George. “Since we know where every employee is on the mine site at any moment, we can respond immediately to any incidents or concerns.”
Ventilation on Demand (VOD) – Increasing Safety
Ventilation in underground mines is essential for safe operations. Toxic gases, and vehicle emissions can adversely affect air quality and in deeper mines, heat can also be a problem if not managed appropriately.
Ventilation on demand technology allows us to monitor air quality in our underground operations and adjust ventilation as required depending on the activities in certain parts of the mine.
“With VOD, we can track real-time air supply needs and air quality via sensors that are distributed throughout the underground which are connected to a specialized central communication system above ground,” explains Shane Williams, our Senior Vice President, Engineering and Capital Projects. “We continually monitor these sensors and conditions to ensure that the air quality and ventilation is fulfilling our needs, and that our workforce is safe at all times.”
Improving Energy Efficiency
In addition to improving worker safety, both ventilation on demand and tagging and tracking technology can greatly advance the mine’s energy efficiency, reducing our environmental impacts.
“If we know where people and equipment are in an underground setting, we can ventilate those areas and adjust the ventilation accordingly. This reduces energy use without compromising safety,” explains Shane.
There is financial incentive to using these technologies as well. VOD at Efemçukuru is expected to generate an estimated annual savings of US$200,000 based on reduced energy consumption at the mine site. “Reducing the amount of energy we use underground not only translates into cost savings, but also reduces our impact on the environment,” says Shane.
That’s a wrap on our Forward Thinking series. We love sharing the innovative steps that we are taking as a Company across our global operations. You can find the other posts in the Forward Thinking series below: