ExScan: Making mining hands-free

By Dan Weatherley
Australia’s CSIRO has developed and introduced ExScan, a laser scanner that is able to render images of underground mines. Mining Global takes a close...

Australia’s CSIRO has developed and introduced ExScan, a laser scanner that is able to render images of underground mines. Mining Global takes a closer look.

Despite many industry efforts in recent years to make the industry safer, through various types of cutting-edge technology and new, modern processes, the industry still lags behind in terms of general health and safety. Mining workers still feel largely at risk of working in one of the world’s most dangerous industries.

Australia’s national science research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has tirelessly been at the forefront of this issue. Over the years, it has invested in several projects to promote and enhance safety in the industry, including remote tracking technologies and smart drones to help map underground mines. 

In more recent times, the organisation has revealed a new innovation: a laser-based scanner known as ExScan. ExScan has the potential to allow workers to map out mines all from the surface, which will eliminate the need for workers or technology such as UAV to enter the tunnels.


ExScan has already been trialled at mining majors including Glencore and has been developed in line with all safety requirements put forward by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The new laser scanner has huge potential to make a massive impact in Australia’s mining industry, which will enhance safety and efficiency whilst eliminating the need for other, less useful technologies.

The scanner is compact, measuring in at around 25 centimetres tall with a clear polycarbonate dome on the top which has the ability to penetrate rock and mineral deposits in order to ‘see’ considerably further than conventional GPS systems.

The project’s most impressive technological accomplishment in terms of safety is the design of the ExScan’s casing which CSIRO has described as the “real innovation”. ExScan is set to eliminate many of the safety concerns that exist in today’s mining industry in Australia, such as the threat of explosions.


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