Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

J. Malos, B. Beamish, L. Munday, P. Reid and C. James, Remote monitoring of subsurface heatings in opencut coal mines, 13th Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong, The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy & Mine Managers Association of Australia, 2013, 227-231.


The detection and monitoring of spontaneous combustion (sponcom) events in opencut coal mines are significant hazard management issues. Currently, the only way of locating sponcom incidents is by manual inspection, whether by visual examination or by use of hand-held thermal cameras, often putting personnel at risk. These inspections are also limited in terms of access and coverage. Therefore, there is a need to implement a convenient remote means to detect and monitor the state of subsurface heatings in opencut coal mines over extended areas for significant periods of time. A versatile self-contained imaging system has been developed that is deployed using an unmanned aerial vehicle. The system eliminates the safety hazard of personnel accidentally entering hot ground and being exposed to toxic gases often associated with heatings. Results obtained from the imaging system is presented, which generates thermal and visible geo-referenced images that can be overlaid onto a digital map of the surveyed area. The data allow rapid detection and accurate localisation of anomalous heat levels within target areas that can be updated on the mine plan for management purposes, and thus enables mitigation strategies to be monitored for effectiveness.