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Monitoring and control of underground ventilation systems using

F.H. von Glehn
Bluhm Burton Engineering. P O Box 786012, Sandton 2146, South Africa
I Ox
CSIR Miningtek, P O Box 91230, Auckland Park 2006, South Africa

ABSTRACT: Ventilation conditions in mines must be monitored to ensure safe and healthy conditions.
However, the multiplicity of ventilation branches and equipment make it impractical to automate
measurement of parameters all over a mine. It is more practical to monitor a few critical measurements that
are fully reliable and extrapolate to ‘predict’ remaining conditions using ventilation network software. In the
past, predictions made by VUMA-network have been verified against manual measurements and these have
given confidence in predicted conditions in the remainder of the circuit. The paper describes work being
undertaken to link the simulator with monitoring systems to enable accurate predictions of conditions in areas
not covered by instrumentation. Information from a monitoring system will be linked to an existing network
file. The measured and predicted data will be compared with predictions and verified predictions will be used
to examine conditions in areas without instrumentation. Potentially unsafe situations will be highlighted and
operators alerted to rectify the situation.

1 INTRODUCTION critical measurements, extrapolate to ‘predict’ condi-
tions all over a mine network using ventilation net-
In any underground mining operation, ventilation work software. Thus in both the design phase and
conditions must be monitored to ensure that safe and the operation of a mine, underground ventilation
healthy conditions prevail and that effective opera- systems can be accurately simulated to ensure that
tion and management is maintained. Mine-wide they are efficient, safe and cost-effective. VUMA-
monitoring systems are used to a greater or lesser network simulation software has been and is ex-
extent for this purpose on many mines. However, tensively used to satisfy this role. In the past, pre-
the multiplicity of ventilation branches and equip- dictions made by VUMA-network have been veri-
ment, as well as the numerous ventilation parameters fied against manual measurements and these have
of interest, make it impractical to locate measure- given confidence in the predicted conditions in the
ment transducers all over a mine. Those systems remainder of the circuit. Work is now being under-
that attempt to do so, generally become too large and taken to link the simulator with mine monitoring
complex and are often unreliable, lack credibility systems to enable accurate predictions of conditions
and are ultimately ineffective. Furthermore, the ac- in areas not covered by instrumentation. As part of
tual transducers for ventilation parameters are noto- the South African FutureMine collaborative research
riously difficult to maintain [e.g. air flow and wet- programme, work has commenced to integrate
bulb temperature sensors]. The installation of many VUMA-network with automated monitoring sys-
of these transducers all over a mine network is very tems. Information received from a mine monitoring
expensive in first cost and can only be effective with system will be passed through trending/filtering rou-
high maintenance efforts. Older mines with a lim- tines to remove noise and the data will then be
ited life expectancy would not be able to justify the linked to an existing VUMA-network file, which ac-
expense of an extensive communication and envi- curately represents the current mine ventilation cir-
ronmental monitoring system. In most mines these cuit. The measured data will be compared with pre-
systems are generally doomed to unreliability. Even dictions made by VUMA-network and any
with a large budget, there will inevitably be areas in differences at measurement locations will be re-
a mine that lack instrumentation. ported. The verified predictions will be used to ex-
It is more practical to have a few critical meas- amine conditions in areas of the mine which have no
urement sites that are fully reliable and, from these instrumentation. Potentially unsafe situations will

requirements. air ther- This system diagnostic tool will be tested towards modynamics and gas and dust emissions in an un- the end of 2003 in conjunction with a deep hot gold derground mine. VRT and wet-bulb and dry-bulb tem- depths are greater. it will be neces. the ventilation systems. metric. system design and per. Y and Z ments are increasing. changes in design could have significant global ef. medical surveillance require. air pressure drop and air thermodynamic and ing industry. used to view the network and colour coded re- Such a process would require numerous predic. not only for in each branch. allow simulation networks to be constructed and sibility of identifying locations/sources of differ. Further. neous steady-state simulation of air flow. To enable the practical and economical • If only an air flow solution is required. 2000. mining The BP. tion is obtained for air flow. sults. or section view. • Simulation networks are constructed in a two- stones and base metals has become an extremely dimensional [2-D] graphical editor on a level-by- competitive business world-wide. contaminants and tures needed for future ventilation and cooling re. Different levels are then intercon- plines that affects the well-being and profitability of nected. only in- design of mine ventilation and cooling systems. A fundamental feature potential for control functions to be automatically of VUMA-network is user-friendly interfaces that carried out. Given that the planning and design of under. Due to the integrated and extended function to assist with the development of a nature of high production mines. starting and end- 2 VUMA-NETWORK ing with nodes. accurate and flexible enough to evaluate rapidly all The solver within VUMA-network is the result of possible options and scenarios. • Input data for each branch is entered in a specific racy. gem. design and operate mine ventila. VUMA-network is an interactive Marx et al. and depicting network compo- nents such as shafts. On the these parameters are calculated for other nodes other hand. ven. • Three-dimensional [3-D] graphical viewer is fects on the underground ventilation control system. • Iterative network solution algorithms are used to ground ventilation control systems for future mines solve for air flow. tion zones. etc. . and standards regarding escape co-ordinates. but also for the overall de. declines or produc- the modern mining industry is that of mine under. air thermodynamic properties. Future work will also examine the highlighted and operators can be alerted to carry ‘MS-Windows’ program that allows for the simulta- out pre-determined tasks to rectify the situation. tions for network conditions. years. In the min. • In addition to the 2-D and 3-D graphics output formance. mines are more mechanised and peratures only need to be set for the start-node as the network of excavations more extensive. and updated heat flow models will require extensive optimisation. and air temperatures. • VUMA-network contains an extensive help sign of mines. are used to calculate the thermodynamic changes sary to evaluate a number of scenarios. platinum. more. production rates have increased. gold. lation and cooling systems to a high degree of accu. These systems need to take modern mining input screen for that branch-type before a solu- methods into account as well as the costly infrastruc. medical compensation levels nent of a network. One of the disci. Some other aspects of VUMA-network are: • Network consists of branches. level basis. viewed graphically and what-if studies to be rapidly ences and extracting reasons for the differences from performed to determine optimal designs and system a knowledge base. theoretical and empirical models that have been de- The VUMA-network simulation program is spe. Barometric pressure [BP]. the majority of commodity prices are throughout the network. ground ventilation control. quirements. results may be viewed in a tabular for- such predictions without simulation tools that are mat. there is future variety of mining methods. Rock Temperature [VRT]. typically by shafts. veloped and verified by engineers and scientists at cifically designed to assist underground ventilation both BBE and CSIR Miningtek over a number of engineers to plan. It would be virtually impossible to make display. Obviously. Increasingly stringent standards are being set with • Input data for branches is used to calculate the regard to occupational health and safety. seemingly small simulation model. tunnels. It has become essential • Network is viewed in 2-D format in either geo- for ventilation practitioners to plan and design venti. low and the mining of coal. strike. • Input data for nodes consists of the X. have been increased. formation relating to the geometry and air resis- tilation practitioners need effective and modern tance characteristics of the branches needs to be tools. Further details on the program are given by tion systems. Virgin and rescue equipment are more stringent. The program caters for a wide mine monitoring system. entered. maximum allowable pollutant levels contaminant level changes in a specific compo- are being reduced.

Checks carried out include whether the instrument is dicting conditions in the rest of the mine was under. parameters at only a few key locations and then pre. The user will be A project to examine the possibility of monitoring requested to check the relevant instrument[s]. Comparison-solver [which include calls to VUMA solver] and Reporter. a report is produced and the program is re- turned to the control of the Linker. • Anticipating potential problems by displaying Control is then handed back to the Linker to await warnings when changes in measured parameters the next series of measurements. same starting point for calculation as the actual ven- while five mines were in the process of installing tilation system. The Diagnostic faulty-instrument checker scans Figure 1: Network in 3-D viewer the measured data for validity and consistency. The Linker matches measurement locations with nodes within a VUMA-network data file and passes meas- ured information to the Comparison solver. It is obviously important that the VUMA- network file accurately represents the current mine layout and that the user has verified the accuracy of input parameters such as airway friction factors. included in these systems was carried out on spon. The VUMA solver is repeatedly such systems. all had sys. The Linker screens the input data for ‘noise’ and also carries out some basic smoothing of data to minimise false alarms as a result of sudden but short-lived extreme changes in measured conditions. Where large refrigeration plants were called until the parameters at each measured node installed. Of the 14 mines surveyed. For subsequent steps the pa- els. The Linker interacts with the mine SCADA sys- tem through a common open interface [OPC]. while four mines were the measured parameters so that downstream in the process of implementing such systems. are within the range of the instrument and whether search programme. and linear heat loads. When the final measurement point has been com- tion system. displaying a fault code. The modules include: Linker to a mine control and data acquisition [SCADA] system. water temperature and dam lev. Diagnostic faulty-instrument checker. remote access to the plant PLC systems is have been compared with the predicted values. The system increases the coverage provided by existing instruments through extrapola- tion of measured values in VUMA-network to pro- vide an expanded real-time view of the mine. Six mines continuously monitored air flows and rameters for that node are defined to be the same as temperatures at key locations. . A survey of mine monitoring the measured value is within acceptable range for systems and the relevant ventilation instrumentation current conditions. difference displayed. tems in place that included automatic fire detection The predicted values at the first measurement node instruments and most of the mines monitored under. Two branches in the computer network will have the mines monitored the status of ventilation doors. users can use existing network information and there is no need to switch between operation of two different programs. whether the measured data taken as part of the FutureMine collaborative re. establish a reference prediction based on user input. If the measured reading is not valid or consistent with previous readings or with neighbouring measure- 3 LINK TO MINE MEASUREMENT SYSTEM ments. possible via the mine-wide monitoring / communica. are compared with the actual measurements and the ground water flow. The Comparison solver calls the VUMA-solver to soring mines. pared or calibrated. By linking the modules to VUMA-network. all predicted values at measure- The outcome of this project has been a number of ment nodes will correspond exactly with measure- software modules that are capable of: ments – any differences in intervening • Communicating between the mine monitoring nodes/branches will be due to input parameters not system and VUMA-network corresponding with actual values or due to changes • Real-time solving and calibration of mine in the actual ventilation system which have not been models taken into account. exceed specified limits.

minor tempera- ture variations at a measurement location will not Comparison. No checked? VUMA-transient [Bluhm et al. ured nodes A companion program to VUMA-network. at Beatrix Gold Mine No. Although the thermal solution in VUMA-network is based on steady-state algorithms. management Figure 2: Program logic. 2002] has been de- veloped to investigate the effect of dynamic tem- Yes perature and flow variations in a network. but al- measured with though the correct trend will be seen. Large variations in parameters at a measurement Compare location will result in a variation downstream. Smoothing/trending fixed node data routines will be included in the Linker to remove minor variations and noise in the measured data. 4 Shaft agreed to provide data to allow the ventilation system to be set up in VUMA-network. it will be possible to identify downstream areas of the mine which could experience potentially dangerous conditions. 4 TRANSIENT ISSUES Linker obtains measured The objective of the Comparison-solver will be to data from SCADA ensure confidence in predicted conditions in the rest of the mine where measurements are not available. The predictions will be used as an ongoing man- agement tool to monitor conditions throughout the Eliminate mine. In addition the operator would check predicted downstream conditions to determine VUMA-solver: reference if alarms should be raised in other areas. note how changes in inlet temperature conditions at ‘18 level mixing point’ are not reflected in the con- VUMA-solver with ditions in the return airway. For example. Return to Linker for next 5 COMPARISON OF MEASURED AND set of measured data PREDICTED PARAMETERS As part of the FutureMine programme. Work is currently underway to define what mag- No All nitude of temperature variation [from one measure- Reporter instruments ment to the next or from an accepted mean value] OK? should lead to an alarm situation. The mine is ventilated using a downcast air flow rate of 600 kg/s which is cooled to . Figure 2 shows typical program logic. Because of this effect an acceptance or uncertainty band around a pre- dicted condition will have to be defined before an All meas- alarm situation is raised. Predictions based on accurate upstream ‘”noise'’ measurements will also allow abnormal and emer- gency situations to be highlighted. if an air cooler is not operating and the conditions im- Instrument mediately downstream of the cooler location are Diagnostics known. the predicted predicted and fix node value may differ from the actual value because of information thermal inertia and other effects in the path from the upstream measuring station. This pro- gram will be used to examine the potential error that Reporter is obtained by using the steady state model of VUMA-network. The alarm would Yes request an operator to check/verify conditions at the measuring station. significantly affect the accuracy of predicted tem- solver peratures at a downstream location. In Figure 4.

The fresh air is sent under.58 21. and mixes with fresh air from surface on 18 Level. plemented by 300 kg/s of reconditioned. cooled and reintroduced into the ventilation circuit ground in two downcast shafts.57 mixing 17 Level 13h00 29. 1992]. For example. To implement this aspect of the program. is [Rose & Burton. not experience any flow.a nominal mixed temperature of 7 °C on surface.69 return 18 Level 17h00 18.75 32.73 21.46 18.09 mixing [transient effect] 17 Level 20h29 29. The expert- system rules will be applied to each branch in an at- tempt to isolate and correct the cause of any differ- . if 25 the measured temperature downstream of a bulk air cooler is significantly higher than the predicted [or Temperature °C 20 15 Surface dry-bulb expected] value.61 mixing 17 Level 17h00 29. The correspondence between the measured and ber of strategic locations.92 18.86 32. the pro- gram would switch off the cooler for subsequent it- Surface BAC outlet 0 06:00 07:12 08:24 09:36 10:48 12:00 13:12 14:24 15:36 16:48 18:00 19:12 20:24 21:36 22:48 00:00 01:12 02:24 03:36 04:48 06:00 Time erations. Return air from the mine arrives on 17 Level. a set of expert-system- Figure 4: Typical measured data type rules will have to be defined. the Comparison-solver would con- Surface wet-bulb clude that the air cooler is switched off and would display a message requesting the operator to check 10 5 the status of the cooler. 6 FUTURE WORK Future work will try to identify the cause of any dif- ferences between measured and predicted parame- Measured data for 22 July 2003 ters and will suggest ways of correcting the differ- 35 17 Level return wet-bulb 30 18 level mixed dry-bulb 18 level mixed wet-bulb ence by altering network input data.70 21. Location Time Measured Predicted Measured Predicted wet bulb wet bulb dry bulb dry bulb °C °C °C °C 18 Level 06h00 18.93 30.98 30. Further compari- be read by the Linker and then passed on to the sons will be done at intermediate locations.72 21. The recirculated air is cooled to a tem. The drop in the measured perature of 18 °C in three spray chambers on 17 17 Level return air temperature in Figure 4 is due to Level [at a depth of 1855 m].14 21. Other future work would be to identify ‘events’ that cause changes in the network.42 32.33 21.56 18. about 2 hours at this time.95 30.78 32.38 18.68 return Figure 3: Network layout Table 1. recirculated The blast occurs at about 14h00 each day and the re- air underground to give a total of 900 kg/s to the circulation system is automatically switched off for workings.68 return 18 Level 20h29 19.77 32.68 return 18 Level 13h00 18. A comparison between measured and predicted temperatures at some measurement locations within the network is shown in the Table below.58 mixing 17 Level 06h00 29. Comparison of typical measured and predicted values A SCADA system is installed at the mine and temperature measurements were obtained at a num. Inputs to the model the fact that the measurement location is down- were adjusted so that average predicted conditions stream of the closed doors and the transducer does corresponded with average conditions underground.71 23. For testing purposes the predicted temperatures gives confidence in predicted data were stored in data files in a format which can values in the rest of the network. Data for a typi- cal day are shown in Figure 4. Comparison-solver.56 32. In the meantime.70 22. The fresh air is sup. as if the data were being ob- tained ‘live’ via the OPC interface.57 32.57 32. Figure 3 shows part of the network.76 30.

The project team acknowledges the assistance of staff at Beatrix No. thus minimising the costs of monitoring systems. Poland. F H. a regulator could be inserted to increase the overall network resistance. For example. The programme aims to improve safety and health in mines. H. M. Rose.. 7 CONCLUSION A set of software modules has been developed to manage measurement data obtained from a mine SCADA system via a Linker. REFERENCES Bluhm. Marx. October 1992. Proceedings of the Fifth International Mine Ventilation Congress. Initial analysis has indicated that it is possible to confi- dently predict conditions in entire mine ventilation networks when parameters are measured at only a few key locations. S J. The Linker passes the data to a Comparison-solver which assigns the measured values to nodes representing measurement locations and then calls VUMA-network to predict conditions throughout the rest of the network. Anglogold. von Glehn. & Biffi. This system diagnostic tool will be tested in a real-time mode towards the end of 2003 in conjunc- tion with a deep hot gold mine monitoring system.H. . von Glehn. CSIR- Miningtek and the National Research Foundation to ensure the long-term sustainability of gold mining in South Africa. Permission from FutureMine to pub- lish this paper is acknowledged. vol 54. increase the economic benefit. VUMA mine ventilation software.M. F. There is also future potential for control functions based on the analyses to be automatically carried out. R. July/September 2001.ence.J. & Bluhm. The operator would be requested to investigate a possible blockage or other restriction. Gold Fields]. Proceedings of the Seventh International Mine Ventilation Congress. Johannes- burg. 4 Shaft [Oryx] in supplying measured data and setting up the trials of the soft- ware modules. Journal of the Mine Ventilation Society of South Africa. Marx W. VUMA – a mine ventilation and cooling network simulation tool. W M.J. and minimise the environmental impact of gold mining.C.. M. The optimisation of a controlled recirculation system at Oryx gold mine. 8 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The FutureMine Collaborative Research Programme was set up by South African gold-mining groups [Harmony/ARM. S. if the predicted flow rate in a part of the network is too high. Biffi.M. June 2001. & Burton.