Anglo American pioneers underground tech across QLD operations

Anglo American is making strides towards digitalisation with the launch of an electronic tablet device at its metallurgical coal operations in Queensland.

The technology, which took five years of development, is Australia’s first table device that’s certified for use in underground coal mines, enabling communication and information below surface.

Anglo American’s introduction of the tablets follows a successful pilot at the Moranbah North site earlier this year, according to Australian executive head of underground operations Glen Britton.

“Each week at Moranbah North mine, around 400 statutory reports and 2500 maintenance work orders are generated,” Britton said.

“The team there aims to be paperless within two years, and the introduction of these tablets will enable us to remove underground paperwork and transition to electronic storage of statutory and production reports,.”

Anglo American also plans to use the technology at its latest metallurgical coal development, the $325 million Aquila project, which was approved by the company last week.

The tablets are capturing and sharing real-time production, safety and environmental monitoring information with operators at the Moranbah North operation.

They provide direct access to Anglo American’s safety health management system and can be used as a portable video communication device to instantly access personnel working at the surface level, according to Anglo American Australian business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson.

“This will accelerate trouble-shooting and can also be used as a live video link in case of emergencies,” Mitchelson said.

“Any delays or challenges can be reported and addressed on the spot to reduce lost production time, instead of relying on traditional communication methods such as phone calls, underground travel or hard copy reports being submitted and reviewed at the end of a 12-hour shift.”

The presence of potential explosive gas mixtures in the underground environment means any device that doesn’t meet ‘intrinsically safe’ regulatory approval cannot be taken underground.

Mitchelson said digitalisation was a key part of the company’s FutureSmart Mining approach.

“Anglo American has taken a major step forward in digitising our operations, with the introduction of electronic tablets that can be safely used underground,” Mitchelson said.

“Following the successful launch (of the tablet) at Moranbah North mine, we are now moving towards rapid deployment across all our underground sites including our newly-approved Aquila mine, which will be developed as one of the most technologically advanced underground mines in the world.”

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