Monitoring-While-Drilling for Open-Pit Mining in a Hard Rock Environment: An Investigation of Pattern Recognition Techniques Applied to Rock Identification
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This thesis investigated the abilities of artificial neural networks as rock classifiers in an open-pit hard rock environment using monitoring-while-drilling (MWD) data. Blast hole drilling data has been collected from an open-pit taconite mine. The data was smoothed with respect to depth and filtered for non-drilling data. Preliminary analysis was performed to determine classifier input variables and a method of labelling training data. Results obtained from principal component analysis suggested that the best set of possible classifier input variables was: penetration rate, torque, specific fracture energy, vertical vibration, horizontal vibration, penetration rate deviation and thrust deviation. Specific fracture energy and self-organizing-maps were explored as a means of labelling training data and found to be inadequate. Several backpropagation neural networks were trained and tested with various combinations of input parameters and training sets. Input sets that included all seven parameters achieved the best overall performances. 7-input neural networks that were trained with and tested on the entire data set achieved an average overall performance of 81%. A sensitivity analysis was performed to test the generalization abilities of the neural networks as rock classifiers. The best overall neural network performance on data not included in the training set was 67%. The results indicated that neural networks by themselves are not capable rock classifiers on MWD data in such a hard rock iron ore environment.