At Howden, we often hear that mining companies understand the ventilation efficiencies of using Ventsim™ CONTROL but that the communication and tracking technology is not mature enough. However, sites have everything they need to set up Ventsim CONTROL and should prepare now for a revolution in ventilation. Here’s why:
A history of proven benefits
Ventilation Automation has been a part of several large-scale mine operations and mining for decades. However, as technology becomes more advanced and robust with digital communication underground becomes more common, new and existing mines are considering adopting ventilation monitoring and automation. Significant benefits have been proven by mines that have already automated their ventilation.
- Power savings and reduced carbon emissions have been one of the most documented benefits, which generate both cost savings and a significant reduction in carbon footprint. Case studies show more than 50 to 60% reduction in energy consumption, and reports of reduced 11,500 tonnes of CO2 power emissions for some mines.
- Improved safety: The ability and insight to measure underground conditions and to take action quickly and efficiently are critical to ensuring safety. Ventsim CONTROL is the only software available globally that offers a real-time sensor-based simulation of the underground conditions to better understand all mine conditions, even in areas without sensors. The ability to simulate emergency scenarios in advance, based on the current conditions provides additional information to help make critical and informed decisions.
- Increase production: by reducing blast clearing downtime, Howden can improve production rates by up to 70%. Clear blast gases faster, decreasing downtime up to 3 hours per production blast.
- Efficient operations: Most mines require manual intervention to alter ventilation controls and adjust ventilation circuits underground. A ventilation automation system dramatically reduces the man-hours required to complete these tasks through the use of scheduled or automated programming. Delays experienced when environmental conditions do not allow manual access to ventilation controls are now a thing of the past.
To gain instant value out of Ventsim CONTROL, all that is initially required to set up is atmospheric sensors and a form of digital communication. To gain further benefits, automation of the ventilation system using fan controllers and controllable regulators will bring the full benefits of the system. Automation enables mines to utilise schedules, live sensors, and predicted ventilation outcomes to make continuous intelligent decisions for fan and regulator settings, resulting in optimised ventilation conditions, productivity, and reduced power consumption.
A flexible way forward
Ventsim CONTROL licensing is scalable, meaning the cost of the system can be sized to your mine and the number of sensors, and the features and capabilities you want. The system can easily be expanded as the mine complexity and size increases over time, reducing upfront expenditure and ensuring rapid payback of the investment.
An automated system needs to be maintained for reliability. The Ventsim CONTROL system can help detect faulty or inaccurate sensors and can revert ventilation controls to a safe setting if communication is lost, or sensor data is faulty. Inconsistent values between adjacent or inline sensors and comparison with manual ventilation surveys will help highlight discrepancies and pinpoint areas requiring attention.
You are in control
Unlike most automation systems, Ventsim CONTROL does not require special programming or complex skills. Any person on-site can customise, change or expand the automation system with some basic training. Ventsim CONTROL uses Ventsim models as an easy, intuitive interface for controlling and monitoring a ventilation automation system, and an accurate model is not required to use most monitoring and automation features. Using an accurate model, however, does offer additional advantages such as discrepancy highlighting, prediction of conditions in areas without sensors, and real-time emergency simulation and prediction.
You do not need to wait until you are ready for a full mine-wide system. Beginning with a basic system will generate immediate benefits, and continue to grow and prove its worth many times into the future.