Two-way radios crucial to mine security

May 2002 IT infrastructure

Theft is the one of the major problems facing the mining industry. It is an industry where the cost of production is extremely high, so in order to survive, mines have to ensure maximum levels of productivity and implement stringent security measures.

Strict access control and constant monitoring of all areas of the mine is required, to ensure staff safety and to protect the mine's assets. Aside from CCTV, two-way radios play a crucial role in mine safety and security.

According to Francois Cronje, group technical co-ordinator for BOSASA, a company specialising in security for the mining industry, two-way radios are the communications tool of choice because they provide instant group communication and they operate in tough environments, withstanding rough usage. "The mining environment is extremely harsh, with lots of dust, hazardous chemicals, high temperatures and explosive devices," explains Cronje. "Due to the risks inherent in this work environment and the high value of the raw material, we have to control access and have 24-hour guarding in areas such as the smelter house and metallurgical plant." In addition to these two areas, two-way radios provide vital communications between all security points - from the outside post to the shafts, explosives magazines, mine stores and offices where senior management is based. Mobile radios are fitted in all security vehicles for reaction teams and roaming patrols.

"The noise level in certain areas of a mine is generally quite high, making it difficult to hear communications," adds Matthew Skey, owner of Motorola authorised dealer LA Radio. "We have a wide range of accessories, from voice-activated features for hands-free operation to walkman-style ear buds for discreet audio and heavy-duty microphones for rugged environments. These allow users to customise the radios according to their specific requirements."

BOSASA has standardised on Motorola two-way radios. The benefits of two-way radios are not only applicable to security in the mining environment: many mines use two-way radio for the management of the mine and co-ordination of remote work teams and activities. "The applications of two-way radio in the mining industry are numerous. From communication with remote work teams to co-ordinating various activities across the mine, radios play an important role in streamlining operations by providing rapid group communication that is cost-effective," concludes Skey.

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