Applications of GPS-based navigation systems on mobile mining equipment in open-pit mines

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 90, No. 1011, 1997

Jonathan Peck and Carl Hendricks, AQUILA Mining Systems Ltd., Montreal, Quebec

Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) based positioning and navigation systems have been recently developed and implemented by AQUILA Mining Systems Ltd. on blasthole drills and electric cable shovels in Canadian open pit coal and iron ore mines. These systems enable the location of the drill bit or the shovel tracks to be accurately determined in three dimensions. The position of the drill or shovel is displayed to the operator via a real-time, Moving Map Display (MMD) on an LCD-VGA screen. The MMD allows the operator to accurately navigate the drill from blasthole to blasthole or maintain a desired shovel grade or face position, with respect to displayed bench features. The maps for the MMD are downloaded from the mine office via laptop or radio link as required or as mining plans change. To obtain reliable, accurate and real-time 3D positions of mobile mining equipment, proven GPS technology has to be utilized. The GPS components need to operate reliably under the severe environmental conditions that exist on board mobile mining equipment. In addition, they have to contend with varying pit geometry’s and satellite configurations, with little or no performance degradation. These issues were initially examined in December 1993 during a feasibility project between AQUILA and Gregg River Resources Ltd., in relation to implementing GPS systems on blasthole drills. To achieve certain design objectives, AQUILA Mining Systems Ltd. has developed navigation systems for cable shovels and blasthole drills based around off-the-shelf, high precision GPS components. These systems utilize the AQUILA Advanced Monitoring Platform (AMP), to display graphically, via the MMD, shovel grade and drill position to the operator to within ±12 inches of design coordinates. Production prototypes have been installed on a Marion 301 cable shovel and a Bucyrus-Erie 49-R Series III drill at the Fording River Mine in August, 1995, at the Wabush Mine on a Bucyrus Erie 190-B shovel in June, 1995, and on a GD120 drill at Gregg River Resources Ltd. in January, 1996. All these systems have undergone field trials to test system components and functionality’s under actual production conditions. This paper will discuss these GPS-based positioning and navigation systems in subsequent sections.
Mots Clés: Equipment, Navigation systems, Global Positioning Systems, Open pit mining, Moving Map Display.