South Africa is a country rich in minerals and precious metals, with a vital mining industry aimed at taking gold, diamonds, platinum and other products such as copper, iron and coal out of the earth.
Mines are major employers, with thousands of individuals involved in a single operation, often working around the clock to extract the valuable content.
In considering the security and safety practices for the South African mining industry there are a myriad of factors to take into account. External threats such as organized crime or terrorism are ever present, but so too are internal security concerns, focused on the opportunistic theft of both mined product and equipment. On the safety side, mine operators need to be prepared in the event of a rockslide or mine collapse or some other natural or manmade disaster.
Working together, the mining industry and security providers are taking a holistic approach, examining each part of the operation and devising a security and safety plan that will encompass the various scenarios.
Often it starts at the perimeter of the mining operation, setting up fences and incorporating intrusion systems, video and video analytics so security personnel can monitor from a single point the activity at the furthest reaches of the facility.
Additionally, they can then deploy those same video systems on internal operations such as viewing product as it moves along conveyors for both security and process management purposes. Through analytics, someone monitoring the system will be alerted if there is a change from the norm, such as a piece of ore falling off or being removed from the moving belt. The video systems can also be used to monitor productivity and alert viewers to areas where processes can be improved.
Video and asset tracking are also being used to keep track of equipment. In mines dealing in lower-value ores, for instance, the theft of machinery and vehicles may be a bigger threat than theft of the product itself.
Time and attendance systems built into access control platforms can monitor the hundreds or thousands of people entering and exiting the mine. In the event of a disaster, that same system can be tapped to provide an accurate count of workers who may be trapped or missing.
Unique to the high-value mining industry, security is also incorporating random searches and even low-dose X-rays integrated with video and access control systems to periodically check for individuals who may try to smuggle valuable minerals and metals out as they exit. Some workers go so far as to swallow the ore, which is where the X-rays come in.
Another challenge for security is the very nature of the location of the mines. Some areas are threatened by rain and lightning; others are imperiled by dry, cold and dust; and yet other sites have the test of extreme high humidity. As a result, system components such as cameras and sensors need to be built to withstand these extremes of temperature and climate and the overall systems need back up capabilities and redundancy to weather power outages from storms.
Listening to and reacting to the specific needs of an industry, such as South Africa’s mining sector, is resulting in unified enterprise solutions that cover its many needs, from managing and protecting people to tracking equipment and to ensuring the security of valuable assets.
What other mining security concerns do you consider? Please leave me a comment below.
Source: Tyco Blog