New Tech in B.C. Mining Safety and Rescue Operations

New Tech in B.C. Mining Safety and Rescue Operations

July 12, 2018 Posted by Abby Pollen

British Columbia has a long history in mining and mining safety. The Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia (the Code) has existed since 1909. Under the Code, all mines are required to provide emergency response capabilities. This requirement has made British Columbia’s mining industry a global model for mine rescue practices. The Code is continually updated and improved as technologies and tactics are developed.

Among the recent advances in improved safety and risk reduction is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Teck Resources is using AI to monitor and predict equipment performance at their operation in Trail, BC. The software tracks machine performance to prevent accidents and equipment failures before they occur. Most importantly, AI can be used to predict the “digability” of an area, or the level of resistance in rock material. Accurate analysis of digability reduces the amount of explosives required in operations. AI could also reduce extraction costs by 10%, so it’s a win-win resource for mining operations.

Technical Safety B.C. is also using AI. Their Resource Allocation Program (RAP) uses permit and inspection data from safety officers to prioritize work with a focus on the areas where the highest potential risks lie. Every time safety officers assess a site, they record a data point that the program’s algorithm uses to adjust the accuracy of its safety prediction. The feedback loop of assessment and data entry allows RAP’s machine learning to constantly adapt based on the latest information.

Drones can track activity across large mining sites, providing faster responses to safety issues, and assisting in rescue operations by delivering supplies quickly and efficiently. Eventually, drones could be equipped with machine learning and recognition software that would allow them to recognize dangerous situations and alert safety personnel.

Mine rescue teams from throughout British Columbia recently tested their mettle in the 63rd-annual Provincial Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition. Teams of mine safety and rescue professionals go head-to-head in challenges involving simulated mine rescue scenarios. The competition, hosted by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, provides mine rescue teams with an intensive learning opportunity and a chance to test their capabilities. It’s an opportunity to share strategies and network across communities, and helps ensure that teams across the province are trained to the same high standards.

One team that competes each year is from the University of British Columbia. The UBC Mine Rescue Team is the first student body of its kind in Canada. They are committed to developing future leaders for the mining industry and are respected domestically and abroad. They also compete in the biennial Mine Emergency Response Development competition held at the Colorado School of Mines.

Through the combination of these efforts and events, mining continues to be one of the safest heavy industries in British Columbia. Visit the Mining Association of British Columbia to learn more about operations across the province.

To explore investment opportunities in British Columbia, visit our opportunities page. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn or Twitter, or face-to-face at one of the events listed on our events page to request more information or arrange site visits. You can also watch our animated sector video for a snapshot of the mining advantages British Columbia offers.


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