Miners face unique environmental challenges.
The impacts generated from operations at a single site can be many and varied, resulting in a diversity of monitoring programs and complex data management requirements.
Compliance to external standards and internal thresholds means the collected data should be timely, reliable and easily accessible to authorised users right across the company.
Any breakdown in the monitoring process should be notified to the right people immediately.
The ultimate aim is to reduce organisational and environmental risk.
The danger of an ad hoc approach to managing environmental data is that important historical data representing a resource-intensive monitoring program cannot be found when it is actually required.
The culprit is often a lost spreadsheet.
In other cases, so much data and associated calculations are crammed into a single spreadsheet that it becomes unwieldy and data is in danger of being lost due to a single file corruption.
Finally, the sheer volume and variety of data generated by larger organisations demands a centralised, secure and accessible repository.
Software developed by Australian company SRA Information Technology in order to facilitate better management of monitoring data is now operating at a number of mine sites around Australia.
The software is configurable off-the-shelf to manage all kinds of monitoring data across large organisations.
Data from static monitoring devices, mobile samples (e.g. people) and observations of flora and fauna are all able to be stored in the database.
By alerting staff via email and mobile phone to missing data and automatically generating and submitting reports to the appropriate people, the software enables organisations to better understand and manage their monitoring programs and conform to regulatory standards and good corporate governance protocols.
The system provides a data warehouse function, storing time series and static data types as well as images, audio, video and electronic documents and files.
National or international guidelines for things such as water quality, air quality and noise levels identify the tests and test methods and the registered levels, which are based on high and low value exception levels.
The software is web-enabled which provides unlimited accessibility for authorised users.
Monitoring data, which is generated by in-situ sensors in the field and then transmitted telemetrically back to a central location, is automatically loaded into the software database.
Data loading issues are identified during the load process, and logged in an exception table.
These data issues can then be addressed later and the data set status changed to valid by the user if required.
Exception records are generated based on a number of business rules, such as if the recorded values are outside the expected range of the device.
There are some records that will generate warnings rather than exceptions, and these include values that exceed the value ranges of the guideline or standard being applied.
When operation levels are exceeded they are emailed or SMSs to nominated recipients.
Workflow processes are also implemented for device calibration.
Email notifications identifying devices due for calibration are sent to nominated recipients based on a device calibration business rule.
Sample points can be identified graphically through a built-in map-viewer and drilled-down into.
Many larger organisations will have an existing corporate spatial database however, and in these cases a direct interface to the GIS can be made.
The objective of software implementation is typically to reduce the risk of the loss of health, safety and community data stored in multiple spreadsheets, local databases and reports spread across many locations within an organisation.
The point is to ensure company defensibility and compliance to legislative requirements. It also allows standardisation and integration of health and safety processes and systems and protects ISO 14001 and OHS accreditations.
The scope of a project could include conversion of existing health and safety field and sample data from multiple sites across the company (e.g. mines, railheads and ports) to a single, central data management system.
New monitoring data is then fed into the system as it is generated.
Environmental data types may include: stack emissions, dust deposition, fumes, weather logger data, contaminated sites, discharged water, noise, Piezo register, sediments, pore water, stormwater data, flora and fauna.
Environmental data may include Occupational Hygiene Exposure Assessments Data Capture, Health Surveillance Data Capture, and other OH&S Data Management Requirements.
One goal of the system is to store all relevant data, electronic files, images, digital video and audio necessary to enable the production of various reports: NPI (National Pollution Inventory) Reports, Annual Environmental Reports, Health, Safety and Community Annual Reports, Key Performance Indicator Trend Reports, Corporate Management Plans, Clean Air and Air Quality Report, Hygiene Reports, i.e. CONTAM quota’s to the mines department, and mine workers health surveillance and audiometry reporting.
These reports, and associated data, are provided to the relevant governance authority in electronic format where feasible.
Software has been selected by BHP Billiton’s Iron Ore division, BMA Coal, Ravensthorpe Nickel and Rio Tinto Iron Ore to provide them with enterprise wide understanding and management of their environmental positions, so reducing their environmental risk factors.
At these organisations the variety of monitoring programs are managed using the software and a holistic view of the data can be taken.
With the collected data, the software automatically generates a number of reports aimed at internal management, regulatory bodies, annual reports and environmental staff.
Along the way, the software alerts the right people via email and SMS when something may not be going as it should be.
N Jim Rowe
SRA Information Technology
08 8941 7525