Charles Harrison of Secu-Systems says that in essence there has been a fundamental change from traditional perimeter intruder detection systems. Typically, mining operations now tend to spend less money on installing physical barriers such as fences and have moved towards investment in fibre based technology, wireless point to point , camera following camera or beams, typical intrusion solutions on critical infrastructure internally, due to the complexity of operations and the sheer distances that need to be covered.

He adds that another prompting factor towards additional technology adoption is that once an intrusion has been detected, the time taken for a reaction team to find and reach that point is often excessive, with criminals having entered the facility and further detection proving nigh impossible due to the vast area to be covered.

The trend is to institute the peeling-onion strategy from the inside out, says Harrison. This allows for 360° wide area surveillance solutions. On large sites that include opencast mines or even country borders, physical barriers do still play a role but detection options such as high-end thermal and day/night HD camera solutions are being strategically deployed in high-site locations.

This deployment is often coupled with Australian-developed Panoptes military type Moving Target Indication software. This allows long-range ground-based surveillance sensors to cover 20 to 30 times more area with the same assets. Further, it allows for multiple target identification and tracking autonomously and simultaneously. Cameras can easily detect movement down to 4 pixels.

This software can also be coupled with ground radar in areas that allow for it, such as fairly flat areas whereby slew to cue options can be used. The cost benefits are that it is the surveillance system cheapest per square kilometre available on the market.

Thermal tags issued to enrolled users and utilised in conjunction with thermal cameras, allow mines to differentiate friend from foe. Harrison cautions that because this is a military application, end user certification is required.

He adds that commercial cameras can attain detection radiuses of only 2.5 km, whereas military-spec cameras, such as the FLIR HRC-X, can attain detection distances of up to 17.8 km or the FLIR PT-602CZ can attain target detections up to 9.2km. This makes these cameras extremely beneficial on large sites and in ambient conditions of total darkness, smoke, dust and light fog.

Worth noting is that while thermal cameras give users the ability to see what is going on, irrespective of the level of light and in adverse weather conditions (since they rely on heat to detect movement or motion), they cannot be used for personal identification purposes. Therefore, a combination of thermal and traditional cameras is suggested as best practice.

Return on investment through surveillance camera adoption is guaranteed. Harrison cites the case of a mine that is currently installing new cameras. “The actuaries have performed calculations on the four new cameras in terms of their cost effectiveness and in only three weeks the cameras paid for themselves twice over. This was primarily due to the fact that each week their footage led to the arrest of between 80 and 100 Illegal miners. Incurred losses from illegal mining have been totally obliterated. The successes we have experienced here have led to us embarking on a drive to enter the anti-poaching arena with our technology solutions.”

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