Rising input costs are one of the biggest challenges facing underground mine operators today. Even though a mine is productive and has high yield, uncontrolled, wasteful expenditure can threaten the viability of these mines by reducing their profitability. There is no point in blindly increasing production if costs are not being managed properly because more production may simply lead to more unnecessary expenditure on production-related costs and actually reduce profitability as a result.
Ventilation fans are an integral part of any underground mine. However, they consume vast amounts of energy. In fact, the power required to operate the ventilation fans at an underground mine is one of the most significant contributors to the overall running costs of any underground operation.
Even a seemingly small percentage reduction in the power consumption of the ventilation system can make a huge difference to the bottom line of the mine. The key to reducing the amount of power used, and therefore the amount of money spent, is better ventilation management. Having fans running unnecessarily does not make sense and creates wasteful expenditure.
In the past, it was difficult to determine where, when, and how much ventilation was required, so mine personnel often played it safe and left fans running by default. Now, however, it is possible to use high-tech equipment to track the whereabouts of all personnel and equipment underground, and then combine this information with air quality data from each part of the mine to determine where exactly ventilation is required at any specific time, and – more importantly – where it isn’t required.
An air-quality and gas detection system from Conspec Controls, working in tandem with a real-time data telemetry system from Newtrax, generates and collects position data underground in real-time and sends it to the surface, where an integrated ventilation management solution can control the fan usage, turning fans on and off as required.
This approach can save the mine a fortune in power costs every month, easily covering implementation costs of the system from the first month of deployment. The immediate return on investment provides invaluable information to mine management at the same time as adding profit to the mine’s bottom line.