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WINNER: Kumba Iron Ore/Hexagon Mining

Mzwandile Buthelezi of Anglo American Kumba Iron Ore and Fabien Kritter of Hexagon Mining were instrumental in the launch of HxGN Mine VIS.

This is the world’s first vehicle intervention system for mining that detects and prevents collisions by automatically slowing down or even stopping a haul truck if an imminent collision is detected.

This article first appeared in Mining Elites in Africa 2019

Both worked together to develop a solution that would create an additional layer of safety around Hexagon’s Collision Avoidance System (CAS) currently protecting vehicle operators at Anglo American Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen mine in South Africa.

HxGN Mine VIS is now being installed at the mine, well ahead of government regulations compelling mine operators to install vehicle intervention technology on vehicles by June 2019.

VIS is a Level 9 system that takes control of a machine in certain situations if the operator does not react appropriately to a CAS warning. Depending on the situation, VIS can automatically cut the propulsion, apply the retarder or even activate the service brakes.

Sishen mine contacted Hexagon Mining about a system in 2014. The mine had conducted an extensive risk assessment of its operation to understand major risks.

Together with the customer Hexagon Mining defined a step-by-step approach to develop a solution.

VIS is integrated with CAS and uses the same sensors and user interface, thus protecting the customer’s initial investment. CAS is used in more than 25 000 mine vehicles worldwide.

Judges’ comments:

Roger Dixon: “Safety through innovation,”

FINALIST: Nitralife SA

In 1999 Nitralife SA introduced the concept of nitrogen tyre inflation of mining tyres in South Africa instead of air inflation.

Air, which is 20% oxygen content, combined with the heat generated in a tyre often caused ignition and tyre explosions on mines which killed several people on mines every year.

Tyre inflation with nitrogen gas eliminated this possibility so that no tyre explosions with nitrogen filled tyres ever occurred again.

No nitrogen inflated tyre has ever exploded on a mine to cause death and injury.

The breakthrough came because technology had developed a membrane that could separate compressed air by special membrane filtration of the air to remove the combustible gasses from the air leaving 96% to 99% pure inert nitrogen which cannot explode.

This meant that trucks working with nitrogen inflation were also not threatened by lightning strikes as had been the case.

Judges’ comments:

Jim Pooley: “This submission, although a great idea, is not new however it makes mines safer.”

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