Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Mine Communications and Localization System (MICOLOS)

The purpose of this research project is to provide an integrated high speed, wireless system, for continuos communication (voice and real time data), and localization of mine workers and mobile equipment for underground mine operation.

The system is based on a radiating cable in a fieldbus LAN architecture. State of the art techniques are being used for coding and modulation, mixing of voice and data in the fieldbus network, and for the localization in the confined conditions encountered in underground mines.

Existing wireless (leaky feeder) communication systems used for voice and low data rate transmission cover mainly the access drifts of the underground workings network. They don't provide efficient communication within the stopping area which is very evolutive and has a complicated pattern, especially when room and pillar method is used for the deposit exploitation.

Moreover, the existing low speed underground data transmission cannot satisfy the increased needs of underground mine automation. Data generated by the various equipment, sensors and actuators in the mine monitoring systems, must use an efficient and reliable network that will allow fast data transfers.

The speciality of this project is to design a reliable wireless link for data and voice. The system provides two-way communications between terminals inside a mine and operators in a data processing room on the surface at a 1Mbps data rate.

Another achievement of this project is to ensure the localization of a mobile transmitter in a confined area within 3-10 meters accuracy. Continuous personnel and equipment localization - a very important safety and productivity factor - is not possible with existing systems.

The concept of "Local Area Network" appears to be the most interesting architecture if we consider the savings in terms of wiring and installation costs, and the improvement of the reliability and the availability of the installation. In this respect, the concept of the fieldbus appears to be the most promising in a severe environment. In this architecture, various equipment (users) are connected together with a unique communication medium (bus). Access by the users is managed by a "Time Division Multiple Access" process.

The realised system is modular (voice-data-localization modules) and fits to the harsh underground mining environment (high humidity, dust, high vibrations etc.).

With the industrialization of the system it is expected to have productivity gains in the order of 5-15% through the reduction of unproductive time due to more efficient communication, and through the decrease in the supervisory personnel due to the localization (possibility of lonely working personnel).

Besides the reduction in the production cost the system will contribute to the safety of the underground working personnel. The ability to have continuous reliable communications from all underground points plus the accurate localization feature will increase the speed of actions taken in case of accident and also will increase the personnel safety feelings.

The main sub-systems developed for the demonstrator are: the radiating cable and the antennas, the "fixed station" repeaters, the mobile stations, the localization box and the LAN Bus arbitrator.

Reported by

Silver & Baryte Ores Mining Co.
14Km National Road, Athens-Lamia 14510
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