DTEK Energy creates Ukraine's first "digital mine"

DTEK Energy creates Ukraine's first "digital mine"


Yuvileina Mine (DTEK Energy) has used digital technologies to improve safety of workers.Thus, the company introduced a breakthrough automatic gas protection, a degassing control and management system, as well as a unique mine ventilation monitoring system.This will help better monitor the concentration of harmful gases underground, which can lead to an accident, as well as the air flow rate and temperature in mine workings. In addition, the new technologies enable the company to reduce equipment downtime and ensure stable operation of the mine.

Yuvileina Mine has complicated mining conditions, seeing one of the highest methane concentration in mine workings in Western Donbas. This pushed the company to start digital transformation of the mine in 2019 as part of DTEK's digital transformation programme, MODUS.

The first digitalisation step was to deploy a WI-Fi-based communication infrastructure. To this end, the company laid almost 130 km of cables, installed 120 communication stations, and 400 Wi-Fi hotspots in the workings. The Wi-Fi infrastructure has become a springboard for the next innovative step, a personnel positioning system. Over 1,700 Bluetooth beacons were installed underground to cover almost 80 km of mine workings. Then, fifteen hundred miners received smart-lamps that, in addition to lighting the way, transmit a real-time signal to a dispatch control panel located on the ground. This allows localising a miner underground with the positioning accuracy of 10 m.

In 2021, the company launched the second phase of the project. It introduced the automatic gas protection, degassing control and management sub-system, as well as the unique system for mine ventilation monitoring. These subsystems are designed to provide the highest level of safety and exclude a human factor. To this end, the company installed highly sensitive sensors in the workings and a degassing pipeline directing gas to the surface. The information on gas concentration is transmitted over a high speed network to the dispatch control panel of the mine. If permissible limits are exceeded, an alarm is transmitted and immediately triggers automatic shutdown of the equipment.

The company has implemented a number of important projects to digitalise the mine. Thus, to reduce the mining equipment breakdown, failure, and downtime, the company performs regular rounds and repairs. The miners can use special smartphones to send photos and videos to inform a dispatcher about malfunctioning equipment, get real-time advice from specialists, and exchange information with other teams working underground.

In addition, the mine has online monitoring of coal production in place. A new conveyor belt scale weighs the rock mass flow from the production units with minimum error. The scale has a highly precision ash meter to determine the quality of coal products.

CEO of DTEK Energy Ildar Salieiev said: "DTEK has always put H&S at the centre of its operations, using the most advanced technologies and innovations. This helps us ensure higher safety of miners and more efficient coal production. Yuvileina Mine is piloting these technologies among DTEK Energy's coal mines. Even today we can see that digitalisation brings results. We have reached a new level of control over high gas bearing formations, we can position workers at production units in real time, and immediately inform the dispatcher and engineering staff about shutdowns and emergency situations underground".

DTEK's Chief Information Officer and Head of MODUS Digital Transformation Dmytro Osyka stated: "Modern energy sector is IT-based industry. Technologies make it possible to bring quality changes to the industry, make digital transformations, significantly improving the working conditions and efficiency of employees and improving their safety. The project at Yuvileina can be seen as a showcase: digital solutions have proven their value in practice and demonstrated their potential. Further plans of MODUS programme and DTEK Energy is to scale up the solutions to other mines.