Ventilation in a mine is a large, complex system. The overall objective of the ventilation system is simply to provide airflow to all parts of the mine where personnel are required to be present, to dilute contaminants and ensure that air quality is safe for breathing. During the development and operation of a mine, dust, gasses, heat, fires, explosions and radiation are all factors for potential hazards. A proper ventilation system is key to maintaining safe working conditions.
Ventilation is a key component of mine operations. 50% of energy consumed by mining operations goes to powering ventilation systems, including heating and air. A paper published in 2012 shows that savings associated with control strategies for fluid systems – which includes pumps, fans and compressors – represents 22.20% of the total manufacturing motor system energy savings. There is a desire to improve the efficiency of ventilation systems, not only for cost reduction, but for an increase in overall heath and safety as well.
A properly monitored and automated ventilation system can increase efficiency and reduce costs of operation. But what is needed to be monitored, and how can this be automated?