Future trends for electronic safety and security in mining

SMART Mining Security Solutions 2024 Mining (Industry), Integrated Solutions, AI & Data Analytics

Johan van Wyk.

As always, and as expected, the mining industry is ever evolving, driven by technological advancements and the growing need for enhanced safety and security measures. One specific area that is seeing significant innovation is turnkey electronic security for mining operations that are expanding into even more remote and challenging environments. Hence, the need for more robust security solutions becomes even more critical. In this article, we will explore some of the key trends shaping the future of electronic security in mining.

Wearable technology

Wearable technology, such as body cameras, smart helmets and vests, are being used to enhance safety and security for mines and mining personnel. These devices can monitor vital signs, provide real-time location tracking, and send distress signals and live streaming of video in case of emergency, improving overall safety and security for workers.

Autonomous security vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are being increasingly used for security patrols in mining operations. These vehicles can patrol predefined routes, monitor for security threats, and alert security personnel when intervention is required. This technology can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of security patrols, particularly in large and remote mining sites.

Continued innovation in sensor and radar technology

Sensor and radar technology is evolving rapidly, with sensors becoming smaller, more accurate, and more affordable. These advancements are enabling mining companies to deploy a wide range of sensors to monitor various aspects of their operations, from equipment health to personnel safety and the ever-present security risks.

Implementation of geofencing

Geofencing technology is being used to create virtual boundaries around mining sites, adding another layer of security to the physical barrier on the perimeter. This technology can alert security personnel when a boundary is breached, allowing for immediate and accurate response to an attempted breach.

Expansion of biometric security

Access card and fingerprint biometric security has always, and in some cases, still serves its purpose, but touchless facial recognition technology is crucial in mining operations today. Facial recognition technology can match a human face from a digital image or a video frame against a database of faces to confirm an individual’s identity, and it is often favoured because of its contactless nature.

Fun fact: Two popular methods used today in facial recognition are Haar Cascade and Convolutional Neural Network (CNN). Haar Cascade is an algorithm that is used to detect a face quickly and in real time. At the same time, CNN utilises the convolution process by moving a convolution (filter) kernel of a specific size to the next image from the result of multiplying the image with the filter used. In short, Haar Cascade classifiers use a machine learning approach that relies on pre-defined features, such as Haar-like features and a cascade of weak classifiers to detect objects, whereas CNNs are deep learning models that automatically learn hierarchical features from data.

Implementation of multi-factor authentication

Mining companies are adopting multi-factor authentication (MFA) systems to strengthen access control measures. MFA requires users to provide multiple forms of verification, such as a password and a facial scan, before granting access. This adds an extra layer of security and reduces the risk of unauthorised access.

Enhanced communication systems

Effective communication is essential for maintaining security in mining operations. Mining companies are investing in advanced communication systems, such as satellite communication and mesh networks, to ensure seamless communication between security personnel and central command, even in remote areas with limited connectivity.

Remote monitoring technologies

Remote monitoring technologies, such as surveillance cameras and autonomous or piloted drones, are increasingly used to enhance mining operations’ security. These technologies provide real-time monitoring of mining sites, allowing security personnel to respond quickly to security threats. To name a few key benefits:

• Improved situational awareness.

• Sending of real-time data.

• Reduced response time.

• Enhanced safety and security.

• Scalability.

All the above can be managed via the onsite security operations centre (SOC); however, it is recommended that an independent, offsite monitoring company be contracted to not only further complement the implemented solution and technology, but also address the risk of possible staff collusion.

Integration of artificial intelligence (AI)

Last, but not least, the much-debated topic of AI; dare I say, sometimes overemphasised, yet extremely relevant. Are these contradictory statements? No, the point is that AI is not a silver bullet and must be logically implemented to address the identified risks, because AI-powered systems can analyse vast amounts of data from surveillance cameras, drones, and sensors to detect anomalies and potential security threats. These systems can also automate responses, such as alerting security personnel or activating barriers/emergency lockdowns, thereby improving response times and the overall security effectiveness of mining operations. However, wrongly or poorly implemented AI can be the cause of a false sense of safety and security.

Collaboration with experts and technology providers

Mining companies are collaborating with security experts and technology providers to stay ahead of security threats. These partnerships enable companies to access the latest security technologies and expertise, ensuring that their security measures remain effective against emerging threats.

The future of electronic security in mining is promising, with technology playing a crucial role in enhancing security and safety. As mining operations become more complex and challenging, mining companies will continue investing in innovative security solutions to protect their personnel, assets, and the environment. By staying abreast of these trends, mining companies can ensure that their security measures remain effective and resilient in the face of evolving threats.


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