The mining industry is a significant contributor to the Ontario economy. However, mining workers are exposed to five-fold higher occupational hazards than the industrial average. Accidents, collapse and fatalities are common in mines. Confined mine spaces can easily be filled with poisonous gas. Coal mines are highly inflammable. The mining sector also uses significant amount of energy and is a major source of pollution. Currently no reliable communication and control facilities are available in many mines. An efficient sensing, communications and, control infrastructure is necessary for the safe and efficient mining operations. That is the focus of this project.

There are many challenges in achieving this. Mine expand/change topology on a daily basis are often deep, huge and irregular in shape. Terrestrial communication technologies don’t work underground. Specialized technologies need to be deployed. Powering remote wireless sensor nodes is another issue that will require green communication technologies. Furthermore, localization and tracking of miners, vehicles and explosives using unreliable data in irregular mine cavities require advanced signal processing algorithms.

These challenges will be addressed in this project using wired, wireless and optical communication technologies. This will enable two way communications, access to the outside world. Specialized algorithms will be developed for localizing and controlling various units of the mine using the noisy data that will ensure the safety of miners while boosting productivity. This will also enable remote shut down of huge fans and water pumps when not necessary, saving energy and reducing carbon footprint. Overall, the outcome of the project will enable the realization of ‘Smart Mines’ that will function efficiently and safely.

Industry Partner(s):PBE Canada

Academic Institution:Ryerson University

Academic Researcher: Xavier Fernando

Co-PI Name: Thia Kirubarajan

Focus Areas: Cities

Platforms: Cloud