Publications / 2013 Proceedings of the 30th ISARC, Montréal, Canada

3D Time-of-Flight Camera for Surveying Remote Cavities Mined with a Jet Boring System

C. A. Ingram, J. A. Marshall
Pages 285-295 (2013 Proceedings of the 30th ISARC, Montréal, Canada, ISBN 978-1-62993-294-1, ISSN 2413-5844)

The Cigar Lake ore body is a high-grade uranium deposit situated within water-saturated sandstone. In order to extract the uranium ore remotely, ensuring minimal radiation dose to workers, and also to access the ore from stable ground, the Jet Boring System (JBS) was developed. This method of mining involves drilling a pilot hole up through a frozen ore body and utilizing a high-powered water jet to mine out cavities. During the mining process an ultrasonic sensor will be used to provide feedback to the operator, who is located beneath the ore body, as to the dimensions of the cavity. However, more precise data is required to determine final shape, volume, and location of the cavity for mine planning purposes. Selecting a device that will provide sufficient range data in the challenging environment will be vital to optimizing the mining process. Major issues include fog build up and flying debris during mining, and an environment that is wet, dark, and cold.

A test cavity has been designed and constructed at the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) so that a study comparing three different technologies, as prospective candidates for the survey system, can be conducted. The devices being evaluated include a Senix ultrasonic sensor, an MDL Cavity Auto-Scanning Laser System (C-ALS), and a MESA Time of Flight (ToF) camera. The ultrasonic sensor is known to provide range data in foggy conditions but has low accuracy. The C-ALS has been developed for surveying remote cavities but is expensive and does not provide reliable data in fog. The ToF camera provides a high volume of data in a short time period, with potential to provide accurate information in extreme conditions, but has not been tested in a mine cavity application. Iterative closest point (ICP) registration is applied in an attempt to create a 3D point cloud from the scan data and to also compute rotation and translation of the ToF camera. This paper presents an overview of the challenges involved in conducting a survey within a JBS mined cavity, the analysis used to determine the suitability of each device, and the data collected from the test cavity.

Keywords: ToF camera, C-ALS, Point Cloud Library, ICP, Registration, Cavity Survey, Jet Boring