Innovative advances in technology, including digitisation, and automation, are significantly revolutionising the mining industry. Technologies such as AI & Big Data, autonomous vehicles, drones, automated sorting, and dewatering technology are reshaping the industry. Their benefits include but aren’t limited to improving mine safety, predicting mine hazards, and sending real-time information.
By creating more sustainable mining technologies and innovations we can be confident the industry will become greener, reducing the overall environmental impacts.
Here is a snapshot of just some of the ways technology is working to transform the industry.
1. Autonomous Vehicles
Self-driving vehicles are one of the progressions that mining companies are taking to improve the highly volatile sector. For a long time, mining has been faced with problems such as precarious conditions in the mines, lack of skilled labour, and high operating costs. Autonomous vehicles have provided a solution to this because they are safer, cheaper, and reliable. The vehicles integrate technologies such as GPS systems, two-way radio communication, and computing power to make navigation in mines safe and efficient.
2. Automated sorting
The mining industry has incorporated systems to separate valuable mineral ores from waste rock. Mining sorting equipment is not only a practical method to sort particles, but also a way to increase quality, yield, and productivity. The systems manage costs and have low downtime making mining operations highly efficient.
3. AI & Big Data
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data technologies present the mining industry with intelligent machines that work like humans and the benefits of data analytics to improve operations. With these technologies, mining is simplified because the devices can perform a variety of tasks such as drilling, blasting, and sampling. The application of AI and Big data also improves data exchange between users and reduces mining risks to workers because all risks are analysed.
The use of drones in mining solves numerous challenges in the industry by providing faster surveying, better blast optimisation, and improved surveillance of the mines. Data that was inaccessible or otherwise unsafe to reach can now be accessed and sent to the systems.
5. Dewatering technology
Influxes of water caused by weather conditions such as heavy rainfall can significantly slow down open-pit mining. For this reason, dewatering technology is used to handle the maximum inflow of water into the mines. These efforts reduce downtime and prevent the risk of operations.
Examples of Innovative Technology used in Mining
Different kinds of technology will benefit from certain types of mining techniques. For example, underground mines can utilise accurate noise and dust data to minimise health risks for employees or enable location tracking to keep your workforce safe. Meanwhile, surface mining, such as an open pit or open cast miners, can benefit from an automated fleet of remote-controlled equipment to help move materials with ease.
Hetech was involved in the manufacture of LASC (Longwall Automation Steering Committee) products to improve the safety of underground mining employees.
We specialise in the advanced manufacturing of IoT technology and electronics that can benefit the mining industry. Our Australian designed and made products can help you future proof your business, so get in touch today to find out more.
Mining has come out of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic in excellent shape. Thanks to this, the industry has been able to re-evaluate its focus and identify new opportunities within the sector, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and innovative technology has been identified as the strongest areas for growth.
PWC’s report “Mine 2021”, has highlighted some important lessons from the past 12-18 months and what this means for the future of mining. Although the report focuses on the top 40 mining companies, the lessons and opportunities identified are also relevant to all mining companies, big and small. We’ve summarised our top points from the report for you below.
1. Move to ESG as growth focus
With the International Energy Agency predicting a significant increase in demand for critical ‘clean energy’ minerals by 2040, opportunities lie in the growth of ESG within mining.
PWC reports that mining companies should begin to embrace more definitive ESG strategies to maintain and increase the value of their businesses, expand their opportunities, and cement their reputations as significant and valuable global players. These efforts to adopt low-carbon and more transparent strategies will open new avenues for investments and capital.
2. Rethink Supply Chains
Reliable access to goods and services is paramount. By bringing suppliers close to their operations, mining companies are able to build supply chain resilience, helping to secure reliable access to goods and services.
3. Embrace Automation
In a COVID-19 world where social distancing could continue to be part of day-to-day life, technologies that reduce the number of people onsite and increase the ability to operate these mines remotely provides an incredible advantage. Along with this, automation is working to reduce the manual labour involved in some tasks to create further efficiencies.
According to the World Economic Forum, 67% of repetitive and manual tasks and about 60% of tasks involving physical labour will be automated by 2025.
The industry is expected to speed up its investment in the Internet of things (IOT) over the next three years, improving health and safety and staff productivity.
At Hetech we have significant experience in supplying high-quality Australian electronics manufacturing and design solutions to the mining industry. Some of our work includes partnering with CSIRO to support their Longwall automation build, and Vanadium on the design and manufacturing of an innovative means of automating spiral splitters.
We will partner with you to develop an end-to-end turnkey solution to take your mining product to market.
Contact us now to discuss further.