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Bluetooth video streaming technology boosting mine safety

Karora Resources’ gold and nickel Beta Hunt mine has recently implemented technology which is transforming the way mining companies communicate and monitor operations.

GeoMoby recently rolled out a wireless point-to-point network at the Karora Resources mine.

The deployment involved the installation of 16 nodes across 2km of underground mine tunnels and was completed in 2.5 hours, with no impact on the mine’s operations.

The technology uses Bluetooth to connect mining site managers with their staff, helping to control underground operations, and not having to halt activity for multiple days to install cabling.

The company has confirmed the possibility of live audio and video streams in real time using such technology.

GeoMoby chief executive Chris Baudia, who co-founded the company with Mathieu Paul, said the cable-less technology could be installed by a technician and had a 10 to 12 months battery-life, making the installation cost-effective.

Mr Baudia said wi-fi required kilometres of cables to connect the systems, and was very directional, with the signal dropping out at a curb or fork.

He said the company’s state-of-the-art technology would allow for “optimal connectivity,” with pictures, videos and audio able to be sent to the surface in real time.

“Our benchmark is entry level technicians correctly positioning or replacing nodes with no or minimal assistance from GeoMoby,” Mr Baudia said.

Mr Baudia said the current industry standard was using communication similar to walkie-talkies, which only hosted one “very busy” UHF channel.

“You don’t hear much if you’re close to a piece of machinery and it’s very loud, you can’t hear what’s going on, and then everybody’s talking the same time,” Mr Baudia said.

He said GeoMoby was offering a service where audio could be sent as a message which could be replayed, with the company working on a speech-to-text feature to reduce the chance of errors.

Mr Baudia said the technology would be able to stretch across 800m of tunnel before requiring another node.

He said the live-streaming feature would allow mining companies to make better decisions by seeing and hearing what was happening underground.

Karora senior OHS adviser Jody Herd said there had been a step change in operator behaviour since the GeoMoby technology was installed.

“We have 120 people on site at any given time,” Mr Herd said.

“Previously we tracked personnel and equipment underground the old school way with tag board systems, so we didn’t always know where everyone was at any given time without using a radio.

“We’ve already seen a change in operator behaviour due to workers understanding that machines are now monitored using the GeoMoby solution.”

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