Via Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal
by Norm Tollinsky
Underground mines aren’t the only harsh environments in which there is a need for near real-time data.
The northern tip of Baffin Island, where Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation is proposing to develop an 18 million tonne per year open pit mine, is 1,000 kilometres northwest of Iqualuit in Canada’s Arctic.
The Toronto-based junior mining company operates three weather stations logging data required for environmental baseline studies.
Using Symboticware technology, the company is able to access the data in Toronto via satellite. A two-way satellite transceiver runs on very low power drawn from a solar collector, allowing Baffinland staff to collect data and reconfigure the instruments without an expensive site visit. Dr. Charles Ramcharan of Laurentian University’s Living with Lakes Centre is also able to access data from the weather stations for climate change research.
“The project started with a product we call a SymSat, a telemetry system adding satellite connectivity to what used to be just a data logger,” said Symboticware president Kirk Petroski. “There were weather stations in place and we just made it more real-time.”
In the next phase of the project, the Sudbury company will deploy SymBots with 16 MB of storage and processing capacity.
“Satellite transmission is expensive so the reason we have the processing power is to do some data reduction and data management on site,” said Symboticware product manager Bishant Agarwal. “If the customer decides the cost of transmission is too high, he can shut the device off for three months while it’s still recording data. After three months, he can turn it on and ask for reports for the past three months. He can ask for all the data, as well as averages, or highs and lows.”
The Symbots will also be capable of compressing photographs taken by motion-sensing cameras so they can be transmitted more efficiently.
Solar power is effective from May to August when the region experiences 24 hours of sunlight, but from November to January, the stations rely on battery power.
Wireless sensors are being considered for the next phase, said Petroski, because polar bears like to chew on the wires.
Symboticware also hopes to work with other companies in Canada’s Far North, including Peregrine Diamonds, a Vancouver-based junior mining company with six exploration targets on Baffin Island, as well as other properties in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.