The US Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has approved Active Control Technology's (ACT) ActiveMineTM wireless Wi-Fi mesh network system. ActiveMine, a wireless voice communications and locating system for mines, is now cleared for installation in all US underground mines. The Wi-Fi mesh network is capable of handling voice communications, streaming video, real-time tracking and operational data. The company claims its proven technology offers significantly greater sophistication and capabilities than other mine communications and tracking systems available today.MSHA approval means that our existing customers can now fully install the system to get the safety and operational benefits that supported their initial decision, said Steve Barrett, President and CEO, ACT. It also puts us on a stronger footing to generate more purchase orders in the U.S. and other countries.  We wish to thank MSHA for their hard work and assistance through the approval process.

The system's functionality was certified by the state of West Virginia in June 2007.  ACT received MSHA approval of its RFID Wi-Fi tracking tags in September 2008. The tags provide accurate real-time tracking of people and assets as well as an auxiliary two-way messaging capability to the surface.

ActiveMine is already operating successfully in non-gassy sections of three underground coal mines in West Virginia where systems were installed in May, August and December 2008. The company plans to install its MSHA approved infrastructure to complete network coverage at these mines. MSHA approval of ActiveMine's Wi-Fi telephones is expected soon.

The ActiveMine communications, data and tracking system enables monitoring of production, personnel and equipment in all types of surface and underground mining environments, including coal and base metal mines. The system is designed to:

Provide full duplex clear voice communications and tracking in one systemEasily add other applications like machinery or belt monitoring, CO monitoring and streaming videoWork seamlessly with existing leaky feeder systems so operators can extend their investment in legacy equipmentOperate on a 100% wireless Wi-Fi network backbone capable of transmitting high speed data and voice communicationsBe less susceptible to water and mechanical damage of all sorts, including rock fallUse open-standards technology and can support other Wi-Fi devices which are already MSHA-approvedMeet federal MINER Act requirements for wireless systems as established in MSHA policiesEnable miners who become isolated underground to stay linked, even when they are distant from one another and cut off from the outside world - a capability made possible by the system's unique StarfishTM featureProvide a wireless communications and data network above-ground, linked seamlessly to underground networks.John Chadwick is editor/proprietor of International Mining magazine -