0.1 of a millimetre while they were actively mining. We beat our initial target by a factor of 100.” Having established their research boundaries, the team further refined their technology and placed it at several different mines until it recorded a collapse of a mine wall, allowing them to corroborate their data. “We were able to detect the movement and acceleration of the wall many hours before it actually collapsed.” Once the team had generated the data allowing them to measure the acceleration of small wall movements in a short period of time, they began to commercialise their product – the Slope Stability Radar. The Slope Stability Radar (SSR) allows mining organisations to anticipate when the walls of the mine become unstable, and trigger an alarm to alert the miners to evacuate before a tragic accident can occur. “This product also allows mining companies to have deeper open-pits and mine longer at the same site, as it provides the workers with peace of mind that sufficient warning will be provided should walls start to move. That in itself is worth many millions of dollars in value to the mines,” says Noon.
Before the development of the Slope Stability Radar, mining companies had to rely upon prisms attached to mine walls which had to be manually surveyed at set timing intervals. The prisms and survey stations allowed the miners to judge the rate at which a wall was moving over a longer period of time; meanwhile, the Slope Stability Radar, developed by Noon and his fellow researchers, allows the miners to measure the entire mine walls and judge the rate of movement in real-time. Riding on the wave of success produced by the Slope Stability Radar, GroundProbe has recently commercialised another innovative mining safety tool. The Work Area Monitor is a mobile and easy-to-use radar integrated into a light vehicle, allowing a mine crew to set-up and monitor their own local work area while actively working. If movement is detected, this technology provides the work crew with a personal alarm to warn of a potential rock fall. “The Work Area Monitor fills a gap in the market. Every day there are individual miners working under steep mine slopes that have no monitoring at all. The Work Area Monitor is the miner’s own safety tool to protect them within their own work area.” So where to next? “Right now our focus is on expanding the global footprint of our two products as the market leader – but as the mining industry continues to evolve, so will we.”
<< we were able to detect the movement and acceleration of the wall many hours before it actually collapsed
Although it began as a modest research project at The University of Queensland in 1997, GroundProbe now boasts over 180 staff internationally and has since established business networks with mining organisations worldwide. Despite the international success of the organisation and technology which he is co-founder and co-inventor of, David Noon remains extremely humble. “It is exciting to see a research idea that has made such a huge impact on the global mining industry. “But it is even more rewarding to know that miners are able to go home to their families after work because of the warning that our radars provide prior to the collapse of a mine wall”
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
UQ Ingenuity Magazine - For graduates, alumni, industry and studentsof Engineering at The University of Queensland.