Research Project at Doe Run Supports Commitment to Safety Company Invests in, Offers Logistical Support for University Of Missouri-Rolla Project

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The University of Missouri-Rolla project involves the use of high-resolution digital cameras to remotely monitor movements, within less than a millimeter of accuracy, of mine backs. A mine back refers to the ceiling or upper part of an underground mine. If the monitoring equipment detects a movement, underground personnel would be alerted. They could then clear the area and assess the situation from a safe, remote location.

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While our mines already lead the industry in terms of rigorous safety standards, this type of monitoring could provide an additional level of protection for our employees by proactively alerting us to potential back failures

The potential for injury caused by ground falls could decrease in the future thanks to a research project supported by The Doe Run Company.

The University of Missouri-Rolla project involves the use of high-resolution digital cameras to remotely monitor movements, within less than a millimeter of accuracy, of mine backs. A mine back refers to the ceiling or upper part of an underground mine. If the monitoring equipment detects a movement, underground personnel would be alerted. They could then clear the area and assess the situation from a safe, remote location.

Doe Run provided a $27,802 grant – roughly half the project’s cost. The remaining funding was supplied by the University Transportation Center at UMR.

In Missouri, Doe Run’s underground mines are comprised of dolomite, which contains various metallic minerals. Doe Run’s mines can be as deep as 1,250 feet. The mining is done room-and-pillar style, which means large square rooms are excavated, leaving rock pillars to support the ceiling. At Doe Run’s Southeast Missouri Mining and Milling Division, about 200 miners are underground during a typical work shift. Mining crews are split to cover operations seven days a week.

“While our mines already lead the industry in terms of rigorous safety standards, this type of monitoring could provide an additional level of protection for our employees by proactively alerting us to potential back failures,” said Tom Yanske, mine services manager at Doe Run. “This state-of-the art research has the potential to benefit the mining industry as a whole.”

The research project started on Aug. 1, 2006, with a scheduled completion date of June 2008. The monitoring equipment is being tested at Doe Run’s Fletcher Mine and Mill in Viburnum, Mo.

Several people from the University of Missouri-Rolla are currently involved with the project. The project is led by Dr. Derek Apel, associate professor, and Tristan Jones, a doctoral candidate from the department of Mining Engineering. Assisting in the development of the monitor are Drs. Randy Moss and Steve Watkins, professors in the department of Electrical and Computing Engineering, and master’s student Deepti Bairineni.

“We are thankful for the access and support given to us by Doe Run, and we hope this research project will prevent future back failures thereby preventing injuries,” Apel said. “When extracting minerals from areas with difficult ground conditions, the more safety mechanisms we can put in place to protect our miners, the better.”

Based in St. Louis, The Doe Run Company is a privately held natural resources company and the largest integrated lead producer in the Western Hemisphere. Dedicated to environmentally responsible mineral and metal production, Doe Run operates the world’s largest, single-site lead recycling facility, located in Missouri. The Doe Run Company and its subsidiaries deliver products and services necessary to provide power, protection and convenience. Doe Run has operations in Missouri, Washington and Arizona. For more information, visit http://www.doerun.com.

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