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Mining in South Africa
The mining industry in South Africa contributes R350 billion to the economy annually, with an estimated R35 trillion of resources left to mine. Mining companies in Africa and across the globe are continually reviewing their ways of working and best practices for mining safely, efficiently, and sustainably. Research and development play a big role in these changes, with early adopters of new technologies benefitting the most.
Barberton Mines has been operational for 130 years and is located in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Consisting of several mines, including Fairview, Sheba, and New Consort, they produce ± 80,000 oz of gold annually.In recent years, Barberton has evaluated new technologies to make its mining processes fast, safe, and cost-effective.
One of the ways in which Barberton Mines investigated new technologies, was by finding ways to improve their survey workflows. They adopted static-based LiDAR solutions to produce accurate 3D models and became one of the first users of handheld SLAM solutions in 2014.
Why did they choose handheld SLAM?
While static-based scanners are highly accurate, the survey team at Barberton Mines needed a quick and versatile solution for the variety of mining methods employed on the different mines and ore-bodies. The goal was simple; to accurately and safely capture data daily for ongoing analysis of the mining production. In addition, they needed a solution that could easily handle the rugged terrain and environment that mines are so often known for.
Barberton Mines chose to reassess their underground mapping technology to improve the speed and accuracy of their survey operations and increase productivity in the mines.
How GeoSLAM fits in at Barberton Mines
Barberton Mines was the first mine in Sub-Saharan Africa to use GeoSLAM technology when they purchased a ZEB1 in 2014. The results and continued success on the mine prompted them to invest in 4 ZEB Revo’s in 2019, which are still in use today.
The ZEB Revo is lightweight and accurate, making it the perfect tool for surveying. The survey team can complete scans of the mines in half the time, and the process is repeatable. These capabilities have contributed to Barberton Mines streamlining their workflows, long-term cost savings, and greater returns on investment.
The scanner’s ease-of-use only requires one person on-site to capture data. Furthermore, it doesn’t require professional training to use the equipment so operators can capture data in parts of the mine that surveyors cannot access for safety reasons. This casts a virtual eye on areas of the mine previously unseen by the surveyors and creates an opportunity to review old tunnels.
Finally, the lack of extensive training required to learn how to operate the scanner benefits new employees and the mine in general. It takes less than an hour to learn how to use the equipment and to process the final point cloud data, allowing surveyors to spend more time assessing final deliverables and finding ways to improve efficiencies in the mining process.
GeoSLAMs scanners have exceeded our expectations and have helped to achieve our goals where other mapping methods could not.” – Thys Smith, Chief Surveyor at Barberton Mines
Having originally invested in handheld scanners for underground mapping, Barberton Mines have since adopted the technology for other applications, further increasing their return on investment. The scanners are now operating across three key aspects of Barberton’s mining process.
Production Progress Mapping
The original and most common use for scanning is Production Progress Mapping. Barberton completes daily scans of the mines, bringing the data back for regular analysis of production progress mapping.
The scanned areas are approximately 300 m3 and using GeoSLAM technology, they can scan large areas in about 10-15 minutes. In addition, because the scanners are handheld, production at the mine isn’t compromised by having to stop miners from doing their jobs while scanning is in process.
Using the ZEBs, surveyors no longer need to be underground for extended periods, unlike previous methods. They begin their scans in a safe area, proceed to the mining faces, and finish back in the safe area while capturing the data needed – a completely repeatable and efficient process.
Barberton Mines has 5-6 stockpiles that make up 4000 cubic tons of material. They frequently measure the volume of these stockpiles, to ensure they have accurate and up-to-date information on their resources.
Simply walking around the stockpiles with a scanner and importing the data into 3rd party software, provides the survey team with all the information they need to produce required reports.
Health and Safety
One example of where scanning has improved health and safety is the mapping of transport shafts. To comply with safety regulations, surveyors frequently scan the shafts to look for rock movement or deformation that might require further investigation.
They found that scanning tunnels from the chairlift with a handheld scanner was quicker than previously used conventional methods, like Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) or by hand. Handheld scanners only require the operator to ride the chairlift down- and back up again, without interfering with production.
The scanners are frequently used in these applications and their robust nature means they have never needed repair or maintenance.
Fast, efficient, and accurate data capture from GeoSLAMs handheld LiDAR scanners have proven to be a huge benefit for Barberton Mines. The repeatability of the scans has provided a great return on investment and the durability has meant that despite being used in challenging environments, the scanners have endured. The increased speed of data capture has led to safer work practices for the surveyors, and the walk-and-scan method has resulted in no disruption to the daily work of the mines.
With the scanner’s versatility, the survey team is still finding new applications where the technology can be utilised in the mining environment.
It is paramount for us to understand our client’s needs, especially in the ever-changing environment of mining. GeoSLAM provided the ultimate mapping solution that best addressed those needs, resulting in improved accuracy and overall productivity.” – Gustav Fick, SME – Subject Matter Expert – UAV & 3D Scanning at OPTRON
ZEB Family | Safely surveying a hazardous power station
All over the globe, countries are looking to nuclear and hydro renewables, not only to provide their electricity needs but to meet climate goals. This is resulting in the shutting down of coal-fossil power plants that no longer have a role to play in a fast-changing world.
Opened in 1962, the Athlone Power Station was the last coal-fired power station operating in Cape Town, South Africa when it stopped generating power in 2003. The iconic cooling towers, which were known by locals as “The two ladies of Athlone” and had long been a feature of the Cape Town landscape, were demolished several years later.
The efficient user-friendly GeoSLAM equipment enabled the team to safely and comprehensively survey this hazardous and complex plant.
Proper planning was essential as demolition can be potentially hazardous for the safety of personnel due to the plant’s age-structure, and onsite teams often having to operate across split levels, in total darkness. The removal of contaminated waste can be equally challenging. Cost is also a major factor and companies responsible for shutting down plant are continuously looking at ways to be cost effective while providing a reliable, fast and efficient service.
Aurecon, a global engineering, design and advisory company, won the tender from the City of Cape Town to project manage the site for the final stage of decommission. This involved surveying the plant whilst stripping, clearing and removing unused material, redundant equipment and certain historical structures. Their task also included securing all remaining structures, leaving the site in a secure state and registering servitudes for remaining bulk services. Aurecon found Athlone to be a challenging project due to accessibility issues and lack of light. Also, because of the Power Station’s historical importance, salvaging certain unique equipment had to be considered. The team needed a simple and effective solution that could accurately map the site quickly while keeping them safe in a tough environment.
Aurecon chose to work with mobile LiDAR scanners so that the historians, structural engineers and environmentalists could have the data they needed, without having to enter the potentially dangerous site. For the Athlone project, GeoSLAM’s ZEB Revo RT scanner and ZEB Pano camera were used, as well as theZEB Horizon and ZEB Cam. The building’s interior and exterior were scanned with the ZEB scanners The two data sets were merged to provide a full 3D point cloud of the entire building.
Using the Pano, the team generated photos that were incorporated inside the point cloud, so that the offsite survey team could have greater visualisation of the site to feedback commentary. The efficiency of the scanners and speed of capture meant that unlike other scanning methods, the team could repeatedly capture the site. This meant that decisions and assessments could be taken frequently, without the need for lots of people to visit the dangerous site.
In total, the whole facility was scanned in three days with data sets processed overnight, a total of eight hours. The combined datasets were available within a week, which enabled Aurecon’s modellers to commence work on the classification of components in the power station.
The final 3D point cloud representation of the interior of the power station enabled the engineering team to assess and quantify the amount of salvage and scrapped material to be removed from the site, and to plan the logistics of the removal in context with the physical shape and size of the existing building.
The accurate 3D model equipped the stakeholders with information that allowed them to safely and precisely analyse for activities such as material quantification, condition assessment and the preparation of decommissioning method statements.
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ZEB Revo RT | Housing and Building National Research Centre
The government of Egypt (GoE) are leading several initiatives to reuse and recycle the ever-increasing quantities of construction and demolition Waste (CDW) around the country. These initiatives include a national strategy and action plan to effectively manage around 40 million tons of CDW generated annually. They target to recycle 50% of CDW materials by 2030. One of the major challenges facing Municipalities in Egypt is calculating the amount of CDW accumulated, due to illegal dumping of waste being common place in cities.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and the GIZ institution, HBRC (Housing and Building National Research Centre) have been tasked with finding effective methods for quantifying and characterising the amount of CDW in four Egyptian Governorates (Gharbia, Kafr-El-Sheikh, Assuit and Qena).
This project paves the way to developing an optimal construction and demolition waste management strategy in Egypt. The research team used GeoSLAM’s ZEB Revo RT SLAM laser scanner to map the construction waste piles. The scan data is a sound method for quantifying waste volumes over a period of time, due to the ease of capture and accurate data.
The traditional surveying of CDW accumulations was not practical as CDW locations are difficult to walk through and experience rapid changes to the waste quantities.
The ZEB Revo RT is ideal for rapid data capture in real time, making it the perfect tool for this job. By walking through the construction and demolition waste sites, the team are mapping as they go, shortening the amount of time spent in a hazardous environment, reducing health and safety risks.
The simplicity of the solution means that anybody can capture the data, with minimal training, making the scans repeatable as often as needed. Covering an area of 84,823 m2, the research team conducted 12 scans, dividing the route into zones and each scan lasted an average of 17 minutes.
Once the scanning was complete, they opened the data in GeoSLAM Hub where the point cloud can be viewed and prepared for GeoSLAM Volumes. Using GeoSLAM Volumes, the researchers could accurately calculate the quantity of construction and demolition waste. The findings were reported back in a presentation during the third International conference on Smart Cities.
This way of calculating volumes is fast, efficient, cost effective, safer than other methods and repeatable, making the SLAM scanner the right tool for the job. The research effort opens the door into the utilisation of 3D modelling of construction waste management sites.
The application of laser technology would enable the quick and accurate estimation and modeling of waste quantities.
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Oxford Archaeology scan three historic sites in under 48 hours
Three sites across Israel
Oxford Archaeology | Words by Jamie Quartermaine
“48 hours to scan three historic sites in Israel – ambitious or impossible? Equipped with a handheld 3D mapping device from GeoSLAM, we were determined to find out. Our first stop was the Schneller building in Jerusalem. In its 160 year history it has been used as an orphanage, barracks and ammunition arsenal. A few years ago, an archaeological team unearthed the remains of a Roman bath house and winery underneath the site. The next stage of the building’s history is a conversion into a museum of Judaism – hence the requirement for a complete, high-accuracy survey of the site.
Made up of four floors, 130 rooms, an outer courtyard and a number of stables, we needed to work quickly to scan the entire site. Using the handheld ‘go-anywhere’ ZEB Revo, in three – 30 minute scans he captured the entire building, including survey control points to georeference the data. Using traditional scanners, this would have taken several weeks and involved multiple set-ups.
“With the ZEB Revo, what use to take weeks can now be done in hours“
Next stop was an elegant and beautiful 12th century Benedictine monastery. With no more than 30 minutes between the end of the Vespers – the evening service – and the time when the public would be allowed into the monastery, we carried out a quick reconnaissance and accurately captured the unique domed building, only possible using GeoSLAM’s ’go-anywhere’ device.
Final port of call was a delapidated 19th-century merchant house in the ancient Arab town of Jaffa. The challenge here was to record the building while construction works were in progress, with hoardings and scaffolding obscuring structures. A near impossible task, but the ZEB Revo was still able to collect survey-grade data in a matter of hours, which formed the basis of a working record of elevations, sections and plans.
In under 48 hours Jamie had captured highly accurate 3D images of 3 heritage buildings. Proof indeed that with the ZEB Revo, what used to take weeks can now be done in hours.