Mining companies across the African continent have been coping with the problem of illegal mining for years. In their battle against artisanal miners illegally entering their properties and compromising site safety, they were looking for security solutions that were both reliable and affordable. With the turnkey solution from South-African security specialist Secu-Systems and FLIR Systems, that solution is finally in sight.
Mining operators are increasingly confronted with security breaches on their properties. Illegal miners do not always understand the potential hazards on site and often find themselves in dangerous situations as a result. But safety issues are not the only reason for this increased attention. It’s also a matter of productivity and profit loss.
“Managing illegal mining is a major challenge at mines,” said Secu-Systems founder Charles Harrison “It is not just about the theft of valuable ore. Illegal mining presents a safety hazard, especially around large opencast pits. Without the right equipment and safeguards, any mistake could be fatal, halting production and potentially putting employed mine workers at risk.”
Security monitoring for large sites
Security specialist Secu-Systems, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, was asked to come up with a solution for the security problem for trial sites in Tanzania and Guinea. The company consequently developed a robust, mobile and highly advanced security system using of FLIR pan/tilt thermal imaging cameras.
“The large size of these mining sites poses a serious security problem,” said Harrison. “Setting up fences around those areas would be a huge investment. That’s why our customer had previously tried to use balloons equipped with security monitoring to watch over their entire mining site, but this approach has proven ineffective due to the frequent storms this particular area is facing. That’s why a ground-based solution was a better option.”
Self-sustaining security system
Instead of opting for fences, SecuSystems designed a self-sustaining system specifically for remote regions with no supportive infrastructure. The system includes a wireless, mobile 20 ft (6 m) container which securely houses all peripheral intrusion and detection equipment. The system includes the FLIR PT-602CZ thermal imaging pan/tilt camera, along with external, passive infrared detectors and high-pressure pepper systems that trigger on activation of security systems or remotely detonate upon verification.
The PT-602CZ is a thermal security camera that offers excellent long-range perimeter intrusion detection and surveillance, night or day. It can detect motion within a 6 km radius from nominal ground level. The solution by Secu-Systems has proven very successful with one of the world’s largest gold producers – at a mine in Tanzania. Once the Secu-Sytems solution was installed and operational, the results were immediate, revealing the numbers of illegal miners entering the site on a daily basis. The weekly number of arrests has been as much as 100.
“The intruder capture rate improved and the risk for security personnel is now lower,” said Harrison. “In addition, because all footage is recorded, the client can ensure that the entire incident of capturing intruders is handled strictly according to security policy.”
The streaming cameras can easily detect movement down to 4 pixels. The military-specified container solutions are completely fitted with their own power reticulation, which includes solar panels mounted to the roof of the container and battery banks inside the container. The system allows wireless communication back to a centralized control room. Existing installations have a wireless 36 km link that allows complete surveillance and control.
360° situational awareness
The system developed by Secu-Systems provides mining sites with complete 360-degrees situational awareness and is a radically new approach, compared to the typical practice of perimeter fence security installations. Harrison says that while conventional perimeter security systems will generate an alert, intruders can disappear once inside. The Secu-Systems solution offers complete situational awareness and peace of mind. “The FLIR PT-602CZ has allowed us to build a solution that will replace twenty to forty perimeter security cameras,” said Harrison. “This makes it an affordable solution for mining operators that need to monitor huge areas remotely.There’s no other thermal camera that compares to the FLIR PT-602CZ. The camera has given us excellent image quality and detection results, even in the harsh and uneven geography that we are faced with. The comments from our first end users have been mind-blowing.”