Greater Emphasis to be Placed on Trapped Miner Locators

More attention should be give to the functionality and usefulness of trapped miner locating systems. This is the opinion of Anton Lourens, managing director of Booyco Electronics, who says that the mining industry has become increasingly more receptive to the use of this type of product.

Lourens’ company markets a Trapped Miner Locator, developed by Selectronic of Germany, and he says that the system has recently been upgraded and now offers an increased range of up to 30 metres through rock.

“This development was in direct response to South African mining conditions, and the unit has also been equipped with a different size antenna to that used overseas to accommodate the low seam mining operation in this country,” Lourens says.

Each miner cap lamp is equipped with a very low frequency (VLF) tag, and the locator unit is kept on surface. VLF was selected as it offers pronounced through-rock penetration capabilities.

In the event of a rescue situation the VLF locator and the antenna are then taken underground by the rescue team. This handheld locating device is used to transmit a signal which is then acknowledged by the tag in the miner’s cap lamp.

The Trapped Miner Locator is lightweight, easy to use and offers exceptional reliability. Its functionality is significantly enhanced through its operational engineering which allows the miner’s locating tag to be kept in “power down” mode until it receives an activation signal from the locator. This means that its battery power is conserved and it is only activated when this signal is received from the locator and the tag then transmits an acknowledgement signal back to the locator.
 
“It is a major advantage that the tag is permanently in sleep mode until activated by the locator as this ensures that even if a miner is trapped for an extended period of time the tag remains operational and does not consume battery power,” Lourens says.

Commenting on its ease of use, Lourens says that the distance between the locator unit and the tag is clearly displayed on an LED screen while the orientation of the antenna will give the direction by increasing or decreasing the audible tone. The locator housing is robust and IP 65 rated. It is powered by a rechargeable battery.

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