Innovative Technology Opportunities in the Mining Industry

03 Mar 2020

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 improving mine safety, predicting mine hazards, and sending real-time information.

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 by 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.

4. Drones

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.

Will Technology & Automation Replace the Workforce?

Don’t be afraid of losing your jobs to robots. The goal of automation isn’t to replace workers, it’s to ensure they don’t need to be replaced due to injury or being over-worked by moving them to a safer environment. These technological advances have brought a shift toward sustainable, efficient, and safe mining.