Mining Weather Stations

Weather Maestro – the ideal automatic weather station for mines, gas fields, oil wells and mineral exploration

Environdata’s ‘Weather Maestro’ is a robust weather station designed to cope with the extreme conditions typically found in mining sites and gas fields across Australia and around the world.

Weather Maestro’s data logger can be equipped with a wide range of sensors (up to 16) generating data which will support management decision making and flag safety issues. Sensors suited to mining applications include air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, barometric pressure, solar radiation, & UV radiation. The Weather Maestro meets Australian Standards & EPA requirements, is fully designed & manufactured in Australia, comes with a range of telemetry options and is backed by full instructions & manufacturer’s support.

Why do mining sites and gas fields require a good automatic weather station?

Mine managers require accurate and timely site specific weather data for a number of reasons.

EPA & Statutory Requirements: Environmental Impact Statement

When applying for mining leases and approvals, a reliable automatic weather station can be used to undertake a local climate (microclimate) weather audit. Baseline weather data from this audit can be used in the preparation of an environmental impact statement and various reports required by State EPA and government authorities concerned with the likely movement of dust and toxic gases, wet season run-off and the leaching of chemicals into waterways etc.

Impact of weather on mine production, worker comfort & safety and community wellbeing

Data from an initial weather audit (and subsequent, on-going weather monitoring through an automatic weather station) can inform decisions which will impact directly on mine production, worker comfort and the wellbeing of neighbouring communities. For example:

  • Rainfall and soil moisture data can inform risk management strategies associated with mine and site flooding, all-weather road access, slope stability and the siting and construction of mine infrastructure and worker facilities. This same data will influence the management of run-off during heavy rain and strategies to revegetate mined land.
    • Standalone logging rain gauges across sites, when accompanied by suitable telemetry and SMS alarms, can inform management when sites are likely to become inaccessible or mud and water likely to impact mining operations.
    • Automation. Pumps and valves in open cut mines likely to flood can be activated by weather sensors when pre-set rainfall volumes are reached within a particular time frame.
  • Evaporation rates can be measured via the FAO56 Calculation within the Weather Maestro, based on wind speed, air temperature, relative humidity and solar radiation sensors. This has implications for determining when operations can recommence after a major rain event, and for monitoring of tailings dams and other water storages.
  • Temperature, UV radiation, radiant heat and relative humidity data has a direct implication for the establishment of a safe working environment. (On the basis of this data, management can develop strategies to reduce the likelihood of workers suffering heat stress illness, excessive UV exposure, etc.)
  • Wind direction and wind speed data:
    • Enables monitoring of the movement and dispersion of dust and hazardous gases
    • Influences dust suppression strategies (eg frequency with which mine access roads and pit areas are watered)
    • Influences the design and positioning of worker quarters, administration ‘dongas’ and workshop facilities/laboratories etc.
    • Is also critical in ensuring that local residents and communities are not negatively impacted by excessive or hazardous dust drift from the mine site. (See WHS section below)

Data from each of these weather sensors also has implications for the design, selection and maintenance of plant and machinery capable of operating under the climatic conditions experienced at the mine site.

  • Weather data can help determine plant and machinery maintenance cycles, the selection of oils and lubricants, corrosion management strategies etc. Ambient temperature has a major bearing on tyre pressures used in dump trucks and mine vehicles.

Work Place Health & Safety Issues:

Dust

Excessive exposure to dust generated through mining activity can cause health issues for workers and local communities. As well as causing eye and throat irritation, dust generated through mining activity (eg: coal dust, iron oxides, crystalline silica and asbestos) can trigger asthma and serious respiratory and lung disorders.

Weather Maestros, which are equipped with wind speed wind direction sensors, barometric pressure sensors, air temperature sensors and relative humidity sensors, allow mine managers to monitor breezes and implement strategies to lessen the risks associated with wind borne dust.

Hazardous gases

Engineers need to be able to track the movement of escaping toxic or volatile gases from a well head or mine. The same weather station sensors used to track the movement of dust can be used to map the movement of these gases and implement strategies to ensure the safety of workers and the local community.

Choosing a Suitable Weather Station

There are several essential criteria for a weather station at a mining site or minerals exploration facility:

  • Robust for tough environment
  • On-site service
  • Backup support
  • Remote access options
  • Australian made for ready availability of parts & service
  • Meets Australian Standards for horizontal wind monitoring
  • Meets EPA licence requirements
  • On demand access to critical management data

Solution: Environdata’s Weather Maestro Weather Station

Environdata’s Weather Maestro provides the ideal solution when selecting an automatic weather station for mining, gas and oil industry operations.The heart of the weather station, the Weather Maestro data logger is available in 6, 10 or 16 channel versions to ensure all your critical weather parameters are monitored. It features a powerful processor, large and easily configurable on-board memory, comes pre-programmed with Environdata’s custom-designed software, and is easily accessed by a range of communication and remote monitoring options. The Weather Maestro is energy efficient and is solar powered as standard.

The Weather Maestro’s weather sensor array for a typical mine includes sensors to measure air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, barometric pressure and solar radiation. The entire modular weather station can be installed using Environdata’s integrated mounting options to meet your specific site and communication requirements, including EPA licence requirements and Australian Standards.

Environdata’s Weather Maestro weather station includes a range of features to make it especially well suited to mining operations:

Air Temperature & Relative Humidity Sensors

The temperature & humidity sensors made by Environdata allows mine managers to monitor site conditions as felt by workers on the ground. The Weather Maestro’s data logger can perform a series of advanced calculations to determine ‘apparent temperature, which, in the event of an extreme heat event, can trigger alerts directly from the logger (relay switching) or via SMS from the optional Next G modem package. On the basis of these alerts decisions can be taken to protect workers from heat stress related injury.

Other sensors

As well as monitoring relative humidity (RH series sensors), air temperature (TA series sensors), radiant heat (BG40 series sensors), wind speed (WS series sensors), wind direction (WD series sensors), solar radiation (SR Series sensors) rainfall (RG Series sensors) and barometric pressure, the Weather Maestro can accept Environdata’s soil temperature, soil moisture, UV radiation, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and leaf wetness sensors, as well as custom interfaces to other sensors to record almost any parameter you can imagine.

Software

The Weather Maestro weather station package includes Environdata’s ‘EasiAccess’ weather station software. This powerful Windows based package collects data from the data logger, features a range of export options, allows for the viewing of data in tabular or graphical form, facilitates the viewing of real time weather data and has a range of connection and communication options. The software provides daily, hourly and more intensive (e.g. every 10 minutes) reports from the weather station. These reporting intervals are fully customisable to meet your weather monitoring needs. Custom reports, and Wind Rose reports are a breeze.

The capacity of EasiAccess software to perform complex calculations, report data in multiple formats, manage multiple weather stations at once and integrate with other packages makes it the ideal package to support mine managers requiring instant access to microclimate data.

‘AirData’ Vector Analysis firmware is able to detect changes in wind speed and direction on a 3 second basis so that particle and pollutant drift and dispersion can be accurately mapped. Mine managers need this data to monitor dust movement and the dispersion characteristics. The firmware generates wind trajectory data, and facilitates Sigma Theta analysis, the ‘coefficient of dispersion’. Sigma Theta is available as an additional firmware calculation.

WindRose software provides a convenient way to summarise wind speed and direction data on a weekly, monthly or custom basis. This gives a simple visual display or a numeric table of percentages of speed and direction combinations. This software displays an impressive circular graphical summary that is invaluable for analysing wind distribution, and is easily exported to ensure your wind distribution reports are done quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

10 metre Instrument Mast (IS37)

Environdata’s 10 metre mast (standard meteorological height) meets EPA licensing conditions and enables mine staff to monitor winds in terms of the relevant Australian standards when coupled with the appropriate sensors (i.e. Environdata’s Wind Direction and Wind Speed sensors). This is of particular significance when managing dust drift. By adding a second air temperature sensor at 10 metres, the Weather Maestro Weather stations can detect the presence of inversion layers, brought about by night time cooling, which trap airbourne particles and allow them to travel long distances without significant dispersion.

Engineered to withstand 60m/s (over 200km/hr) winds, this light-weight, robust mast and sensors can be installed by one person and provides the perfect platform for dust drift monitoring, and meeting EPA requirements or Australian Standards.

Telemetry Options & Remote Access

There are multiple options for getting data from the Weather Maestro to operation managers and stakeholders. The most basic and least complex is to download data directly from the weather station to a laptop. However, a mine manager requires the weather data to be easily accessible in order to respond to the weather conditions, therefore the recommended solution is either a direct cable link or telemetry so the weather data is available where, when and how you need it.

Telemetry options include the use of GSM, Next G and standard telephone line modems. Data can be transmitted via UHF & VHF radio links or by direct cable, MODBUS, Ethernet and Internet.

  • Next G communications have revolutionised remote access to weather stations within Telstra’s Next-G mobile coverage area. The NG30 series modems fit inside the Weather Maestro housing, are far less expensive than comparable radio and satellite links, and can be accessed from virtually anywhere. The added bonus of Next G telemetry is the ability to receive the current weather conditions on demand via SMS, and also receive alerts via SMS when your chosen weather parameters are met!
  • Data can also be streamed from the weather station to the office on the mine site via UHF (medium range) or VHF (long range) radio links. Data feeds can be delivered as a hosted solution on a web page (either to a local PC or on internet). The RL 60 (medium range) and RL 70 (long range) series modems come as field-ready packages and include two radio modems, antennas, housing and power supply where applicable.

Servicing & support

Environdata technicians perform regular service trips to mines in Queensland and NSW to ensure optimal performance of the stations. Service trips to SA, WA, VIC and TAS are also now a more regular feature. Every Weather Maestro weather station is delivered pre-configured for the specific customer’s requirements and includes a comprehensive handbook and backup support by phone fax and email.

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