Mine contractor Redpath Canada and tech company SafeSight Exploration, both of North Bay, have received a provincial innovation safety award for the development of the Rail Runner, which autonomously inspects mine raises.
The 2020 Safety Innovation Award comes from the Ontario Mine Contractors Safety Association, an industry association that represents mine contractors from across the province.
“We are pleased with how this project was able to progress working with SafeSight,” Stephen Korski, manager of research and development, said in an April 30 news release.
“This is a significant safety development for mining where potential risk can be reduced with the use of the Rail Runner.”
The Rail Runner is a utility robot clamped onto a mechanized rail climber (MRC), which is sent up into a raise to do an inspection.
In underground mining, a raise is a vertical underground excavation, running between various levels, that's used for ventilation to the surface or for transporting ore and waste rock.
Designed to replace humans who are required to visually inspect the raise for potential risks like loose rock, the Rail Runner improves worker safety while also boosting efficiency.
Operated with a tablet, the Rail Runner is equipped with HD video and LiDAR to capture images of the raise and can inspect 1,000 feet in about 20 minutes.
Mike Campigotto, CEO of SafeSight, called the innovation “a true collaborative effort” between the two companies.
“The final result is a game changer in mechanized raise development that supports safer operation,” Campigotto said in the release.
“We look forward to having the Rail Runner implemented in all MRC sites around the globe, making this type of mining safer and more efficient.”
The Rail Runner was designed, developed, and is manufactured in Northern Ontario.