LOCATED in
mineral-rich north-west Queensland, in the sun-baked heart of Australia, ‘the
Isa’ has the distinction of being one of the few places in the world where four
metals (copper, zinc, lead and silver) are found and mined.  

Xstrata Copper’s
Mount Isa Mines, operates one of the largest underground mines in the world. The
Enterprise underground copper mine, the most recent copper ore source at Mount
Isa, is Australia’s deepest mine, with an internal shaft that reaches 1800m
deep.

Mount Isa Mines
also mines and processes zinc, lead and silver and runs these operations on
behalf of Xstrata Zinc. Xstrata Copper is one of four commodity businesses
within the major global diversified mining group Xstrata plc. Along with Mount
Isa Mines, acquired in 2003, Xstrata Copper’s operations comprise the
Townsville copper refinery and Bowen Coke works, the Ernest Henry open pit
copper-gold mine and the Townsville Port facilities. It also operates the
Alumbrera copper-gold mine in the Catamarca Province in Argentina, South
America.

The company’s
mining and smelting complex at Mount Isa produces copper anode and lead bullion
containing silver and zinc concentrate. Copper anode is transported for
refining at the company’s copper refinery in Townsville, while lead bullion is
transported for refining at the company’s lead-silver refinery in England. Zinc
concentrate is sold directly to customers in Australia and overseas.

Handling
explosives, operating machinery and working as deep as 1800 metres below ground
require first class safety and security systems. Because Xstrata Copper is
committed to providing a safe, productive and healthy work environment the
company is diligent in protecting its employees from unnecessary risks while
striving for a zero-harm goal.

Sjeff Klaassen,
from Xstrata Copper’s security partner ADT Queensland said ongoing security
reviews and upgrades had become an integral part of the business planning
process with a range of safety management and improvement systems being
implemented in line with Xstrata Copper’s Safety and Health policies. This was
confirmed by Mount Isa Mines Emergency and Protective Services Superintendent,
Darren Bracey who said the complex mix of mining, processing and smelting at
Mount Isa presented numerous challenges when it came to ensuring the safety of
employees and the general public.

“We must allow
for movement of authorised personnel with a minimum of effort, while ensuring
all the necessary training, induction and other entry requirements are
current,” he said.

“We must also be
able to ensure that personnel who are not authorised to access certain areas
are prevented from doing so. Another challenge for us is having the ability to
account for personnel in the event of an incident, particularly in our
underground environment.”

Bracey said
collection and management of all the associated data was a significant issue in
itself – and aligning this with access requests complicated it even more. To
cope with the movements of personnel

at Mount Isa
Mines and establish a safe and secure environment, the Mine originally
installed the Cardax UNIX access control system including Cardax Commander
architecture at its copper mining site in 1990.

Today, the site
boasts world-leading security systems technology in the form of Cardax FT, a
comprehensive Microsoft Windows-based security system. The site has been able
to extend the life of its five legacy Commanders through the Cardax FT
Commander Interface, enabling the site to migrate to Cardax FT hardware
architecture over time. Cardax FT Controllers deliver access control and
integrated intruder alarms management. The Controllers utilise the company’s
existing LAN/WAN, reducing the overall labour component of Cardax FT
installations.

Workstations
enable the system to be used as an efficient tool by authorised staff on site,
each of whom is assigned operator privileges to report and perform a multitude
of functions. The Cardax system employed at Mount Isa Mines has several
integration applications including an interface with the CCTV management
system. It is integrated with reporter software packaged to provide a
customised reporting tool to monitor the whereabouts of underground staff.

As well as being
interfaced to the company’s HR management system, the Cardax system also
monitors alarms including environmental, fire, intrusion and production alarms
and domestic site-associated alarm systems.

In addition to
on-site alarms management, the system’s field Controllers support dial-up to a
remote alarm monitoring company for backup.

Cardax FT
Cardholder Import enables cardholder data to be imported from other systems
using an XML interface. There’s also PhotoID for image capture, card design and
printing of Photo ID cards and Challenge, a feature that enables a cardholder’s
image from their CCTV system to be checked against the cardholder image in the
Cardax FT system.

Bracey is quick
to praise the Cardax FT system.

“The advanced
technology of the Cardax FT system is flexible enough to meet the changing
mining environment,” he says.

“It has enabled
better management of contractors. The development of electronic tagging to
manage firing (of explosives) underground has significantly reduced risk of
injury, as well as reducing the cost of miss-firings often experienced using
the old manual tag board systems.

“The system has
many different types of hardware that can be adapted to suit the site’s needs,
while the powerful software lends itself well to integration with other third
party software applications to allow better management of security, health,
safety, access control and contractor management,” Bracey explains.