The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) honored three companies—Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Lockheed Martin and CONSOL Energy—with the institute’s inaugural award for Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations. The awards were presented at a luncheon sponsored by the National Mining Association (NMA) at its quadrennial mining exhibition, MINExpo International 2012, which took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center September 24 to 26.
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold received the NIOSH award for its adaptation of an Australian over-the-road fatigue monitoring system for use in mine haul trucks and for implementation of practices to utilize the information provided by the system to prevent accidents in the surface mining environment.
Lockheed Martin was recognized for developing a two-way, through-the-earth (TTE) mine communication system, known as MagneLink, to aid in the rescue of underground miners in a post-accident environment. The system provides two-way voice and text communication from within deep underground mines to the surface.
CONSOL Energy was honored for its commitment and collaboration to improve post-accident communications and for interfacing Lockheed Martin’s TTE technology with the company’s primary communications system, potentially expanding miners’ options for post-accident communications and expediting the development and commercialization of TTE technology. The MagneLink system was installed at CONSOL’s Robinson Run mine in West Virginia in November 2011 to evaluate its capability in an operational mine.
Dr. Jeffrey Kohler, associate director for mining and director of the Office of Mine Safety and Health Research at NIOSH, says in making the awards, “It is fitting these companies are the recipients of the inaugural NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Award. Each has taken actions to employ technology in ways that will significantly improve mineworker safety and health. It is an honor for the NIOSH Office of Mine Safety and Health to highlight the industry’s commitment to innovate ‘above and beyond’ through these three awards today.”
To mitigate the risk of haul truck accidents due to driver fatigue, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold conducted extensive trials of a fatigue management system. Risks have been significantly reduced with the adoption of the Driver-State Sensor infrared illuminator monitoring system in mine haul trucks and the implementation of practices provided by the system to prevent accidents in the surface mining environment.
Red Conger, president of Freeport-McMoRan Americas, states, “the data indicate that serious incidents have been prevented with the awareness the system has given our haul truck drivers. As we continue to refine the adoption of the system to the mining environment, we are confident this fatigue management system will save lives.”
“We are honored and humbled by this recognition,” says Richard Holmberg, vice president of mission and unmanned systems at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems & Sensors business and leader of its MagneLink system team. “Lockheed Martin has a proud 100-year tradition of finding innovative solutions to address our customers’ most difficult changes. Whether on the front lines of battle, or 1,500 feet below the earth’s surface, we know that our products and solutions must perform in the harshest of environments. We thank the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for this award and look forward to MagneLink improving miner safety for years to come.”
“CONSOL Energy is honored to receive recognition of our unwavering commitment to helping the mining industry improve its safety record,” comments J. Brett Harvey, chairman and chief executive officer of CONSOL Energy. “Consistent with our goal of achieving zero accidents through our Absolute ZERO program, the company has been an active host to Lockheed Martin to test and demonstrate its MagneLink system. Initial test results have been encouraging, and we are thrilled to play a key role in the development of this innovative TTE wireless communications device.”
Closing the awards presentation, NMA Chairman and Chairman and CEO of Stillwater Mining Company Frank McAllister congratulated all those honored and commended them for “their innovation and commitment to new approaches to continuous improvement in mining safety and to the role technology can play in preventing accidents and in aiding miners in rescue situations.”