WorldWide Drilling Resource

20 NOVEMBER 2021 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Improved Safety with a Mining Tablet Adapted from Information by Anglo American and Maptek A technological mining innovation developed by a woman is a step in the right direction for added safety in mines. Larnie Mackay, Anglo American’s underground digital transformation lead with more than 25 years’ experience in the mining industry, was recognized as the winner of the first Maptek Technological Innovation Award at the 2020 Women in Resources Awards. Mackay was recognized for pioneering development of the, first and so far only, electronic tablet device certified for unrestricted use in underground coal mining in Australia. Mackey responded to the honor: “I’m proud to have been recognized for a project that has been a passion of mine for a long time, and that I know will have an impact on our industry into the future.” The new tablets have been deployed across Anglo American’s underground metallurgical coal operations in Queensland. Launching a new era of digitization for the mining industry, these devices capture and share real-time safety, production, and environmental monitoring information. Mackay commented on the groundbreaking advance: “Our underground tablets have changed the way we work. They’re giving our underground coal mine workers access to all of our safety information at their fingertips, helping improve communications by providing the ability to make calls to the surface whenever assistance is required, supporting the digitization of our operations, and removing paper forms, which assists in Anglo American’s sustainability roadmap.” Development was a considerable challenge, taking around five years and involving extensive work with mining engineers and manufacturing partners to ensure the product was fit-for-purpose and passed an extensive certification process. “It has been a culture and technology game changer at our underground mines, and the way it has been embraced by our teams - especially those underground - has been phenomenal.” She continued, “This project has definitely been a ride of emotions but a project I would do all over again in a heartbeat.” Committed to continual improvement, Mackay has already pushed the boundaries. The first underground tablet weighed five pounds, but the next generation version is slightly less than two pounds. With regards to ergonomics, this is a phenomenal improvement for miners. Mackay encouraged young women and men to take advantage of the opportunities available in the sector: “There are a wide range of future-focused opportunities available in the mining industry, and I encourage anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in technology to consider what our industry can offer.” Larnie Mackay with electronic tablet. Photo courtesy of Minerals Council of Australia. MIN