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De Beers Ensures Zero Accident Rate On Its Mining Vessels

11 september 2020

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Image credit: De Beers

De Beers, in cooperation with the French telecommunications company Orange Business Services, the arm of France Télécom, intends to ensure zero accidents on its mining vessels through the use of geofencing (monitoring of the risk zone).

Geofencing is provided by electronic ‘anchors’ and Bluetooth bracelets that automatically alert a worker to a life-threatening location. This is all the more difficult when the production facility is on a sea vessel.

According to the internet portal usine-digitale.fr, De Beers Marine South Africa used MV Mafuta, the world's largest underwater diamond mining vessel, for this purpose. It is owned by Debmarine Namibia that operates the deposits located up to 150 km off the coast of Namibia.

The geofencing technology provides a quick detection of a risk zone with an accuracy of about 1 metre, and then it notifies the vessel's crew to trigger the engines’ emergency stop. Safety operators can track the location of the workers with extreme accuracy day and night.

The special conditions in which the MV Mafuta operates are subject to a number of restrictions. To determine the optimal arrangement of the antennamitters, Orange Business Services had to conduct a virtual study using the AutoCAD compass software installed on the vessel. In addition, the equipment supplied by the Finnish company Quuppa required the sea moisture protection of its case according to the IP67 standard.

The next step is equipping the rest vessels in the De Beers fleet with the new equipment.

The company was satisfied with the implementation of the pilot project and at present, the work is in progress to integrate the system into its industrial processes. “De Beers is studying its integration into the Siemens SCADA remote process control system to be able to automatically stop the equipment in the event of an emergency,” commented Emmanuel Routier, Vice President Industry 4.0 at Orange Business Services.

Alex Shishlo for Rough&Polished