Aussie radio comes to the rescue of miners

Friday, 30 November, 2007


The 27 miners rescued from the Ballarat mine collapse used an Australian designed and manufactured radio system to immediately contact the surface to report their condition and exact positions. This led to their quick recovery, through a nearby ventilation shaft.

In late October, the same equipment was also responsible for the quick location and rescue of 54 miners trapped in Kalgoorlie’s Kanowna Belle mine when a truck caught fire about a kilometre underground.

The UHF radio system, designed by Sydney company Benbro Electronics and marketed by Minesite Technology, uses a system of ‘leaky-feeder’ cables, to act as an underground antenna, with line amplifiers and relays to connect the miners, through small handsets like mobile phones, to the pithead.

The cable is laid continuously so that every area of the mine is covered and, using the amplifiers, it can be easily extended as the miners enter new territory.

Most radio communication, particularly UHF, needs line of sight between transmitter and receiver and won't work around corners or through rock. The leaky-feeder system provides dependable two-way voice and data communication deep underground and can even be used to control remote equipment, such as pumps and fans.

The demand for line amplifiers and head-end (surface) equipment is growing every year. The system is in use in numerous Australian mines as well as in Peru, Chile, Canada, Ireland and America.

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