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Fig. 1. At the RWTH, the “RockCutting” group is developing a sensor system for an autonomous mining machine. // Bild 1. An der RWTH erforscht die Gruppe „RockCutting“ eine Sensorik für eine autonom arbeitende Gewinnungsmaschine. Photo/Foto: Peter Winandy

Sensors for automation in mining

The Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies (AMT) of the RWTH Aachen University is taking over the presidency of the European Rock Extraction Research Group. Abbreviated to EUREG, the group is a network of the RWTH Aachen University, the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, the Clausthal University of Technology and the Montanuniversität Leoben. Its objective is to intensify research in the area of rock excavation in mining and tunnel construction.

“Automation in mining is one of the most pressing goals for efficient and safe supply with mineral raw materials in future. Sensors are an essential component of this,” says Thomas Bartnitzki, senior lecturer at the AMT. The RWTH “RockCutting” research group is developing a sensor system that will enable an autonomous mining machine to decide which material to extract (Figure 1). The machine’s most important “sense” is its hearing. It can hear which types of rock lie underneath the surface. “We are channelling our expertise into the research group”, says Bartnitzki.

The presidency changes every year. During its term, AMT will be focussing on developing the research blog at www.eureg.blog and planning the first “International Conference on High Performance Mining” (www.high-performance-mining.com), which is set to take place on 4th and 5th December 2018 in Aachen. The conference is a platform for exchange between industry, research institutions and associations. Leading mining companies and technology providers will be using practical examples to provide an insight into success factors for the mining of the future. (RWTH/Si.)