The security at the Black Rock mine of the manganese and iron ore mining company Assmang in the North Cape has been improved in the last 18 months since the switch from a radio-based alarm monitoring and communication system to the cloud-based Circuit Master solution from Devtron.
Assmang mines manganese ore in the Black Rock mining complex in the Kalahari manganese field, which contains around 80% of the world’s known high quality manganese resources.
A total of 3.6 million tons of iron and manganese ore are mined and extracted from Black Rock’s three separate mine shafts each year. This requires a high level of security as it spans multiple locations and different activities. These activities include earth moving, transporting ore, loading and unloading, collecting mining equipment, and other on-site support functions.
The senior technician from Thorburn Security Solutions provides security services in the mine Raynier Vorster states that the mine has expanded its exploration over the past five years, causing its total operating area to grow exponentially.
“In 2019, the increased activity led to a number of security challenges and it became clear that the existing security system had several shortcomings that needed to be addressed in order to improve security.”
The new system, which was installed within three months, has significantly improved Thorburn Security Solutions’ ability to provide effective security in the mine, says Vorster.
Switching from a wireless network to a global system for cellular communications means that if one cellular network fails, the mine can immediately switch to another. Communication can be text-based, which avoids errors typically caused by radio interference, especially given the size of the mine and its diverse operations.
A key problem related to the mine’s radio-based alarm signaling system, which resulted in faulty communications and limited capacity for user notifications and control room support in the event of an alarm.
“The instability of radio communications has seriously affected our ability to respond to security breaches,” he explains, adding that it sometimes took up to 15 minutes for the signals to reach the control room. If so, radio interference often made them unclear.
In addition, the fence had to be upgraded and the old energizers used had limited capacity and functionality. In addition, there were no zone-specific alarm notifications, and the notification panel could not provide any support for possible action that could be taken.
To address these concerns, Nemtek, who supplied the mine’s 60 km fence and had a longstanding strategic partnership with Devtron, asked Devtron to help determine the mine’s requirements.
Devtron’s Circuit Master solution enables a digital live streaming system for monitoring electric fences that can be viewed from multiple locations at the same time, with the Circuit Master system focusing on a third generation Devnet24 modem.
Based on the same robust technology used in the banking industry, all perimeter and equipment data is captured and anyone connected to the system can monitor and improve the effectiveness of the fence around the clock.
“Perhaps the most important advantage is that all of the alarm signals from 145 alarms located directly around the mine are now received in the control room within seconds as opposed to minutes,” says Vorster.
“We can pinpoint the exact unit and zone affected so that a technician can be dispatched quickly to fix the problem. Any assistance they need is available in the control room, on a laptop or mobile phone, ”he says.
The electricity was obtained from a solar system next to each power generator, which saved costs and reduced the mines’ dependence on electricity. By attaching the sensors to the solar modules, they can also be monitored by the Devtron system.
“The system has remained stable since it was installed 18 months ago and can be operated in all weather conditions,” concludes Vorster.