Technology is changing mining and today’s mining industry is very different from what it was ten or twenty years ago. For centuries, people restored to mining tools such as shovels, pans, chisels, hammers, pickaxes etc. to dug pits and holes. Technology is changing that forever and here is how.
Whether it is your laptop auto-connecting to Wi-Fi at a mall or coffee shop, the lights in your living room switching on automatically as soon as you enter the area, or Google’s prediction API completing your search for ‘hilarious cat video’, technology has automated many things today. However, there are still some things that we’d wish would be taken care of as easily. One of them is mining.
Compared to other industries, mining has been slow to embrace technological innovations with potential to change mining—forever. However, Deloitte—the multinational professional services network, predicted in 2017 that a plethora of new technology will take over the mining industry soon. How soon is anyone’s guess.
Deloitte is not the only well-known company predicting the technological takeover of the mining industry in the coming future. Many other known organizations are also propagating the widespread use of technology in the mining industry in the coming years and decades.
Why the Call for Increased Technology Use in the Mining Industry?
Today, more and more technologists, businesses gurus, and mining experts are calling for the increased use of technology in the mining industry. So, what has brought them to this point? Until recently, the mining industry wasa sector ridiculed for its old-fashioned and labor-intensive ways. However, the industry is finally warming up to the idea of using advanced technology for mining activities, which promises to take the industry into an era that will change the face of mining forever.
The introduction and use of advanced technology in the mining industry has transformed operations and opened the door for new job opportunities, which in turn has increased the demand for efficient production. We can expect to see drastic changes in the mining industry in the coming years including changes in worker safety and day-to-day management of mining activities.
When it comes to productivity and employee wellbeing, the mining industry is currently underperforming or not performing even close to half of its potential, let alone to its full potential. Considering this, now is the best time for businesses in the mining industry to invest in the latest technologies and equipment to maximize their mining efforts and keep an eye on productivity, worker safety, and sustainability. Following are some technologies that promise to lead the mining industry into a new era of productivity and innovation to potentially change the face of the mining industry forever.
According to Deloitte, mining companies may soon start using drones in several ways. These companies may use drones for conducting aerial surveys to collect geophysical data without interfering with regular operations. Additionally, drones could be used for inspecting conditions and safety remotely, allowing the staff on site to go on about their duties without any worry.
In addition to the above, drones that are equipped with advanced technology could assist in monitoring ore bodies in real time. As drones become less expensive and more accessible, it only makes sense for mining companies to use them for gathering imagery and data in areas that are difficult or unsafe to observe otherwise.
HyLogger is an invention that is changing the way mining companies look at core samples. Mining industries in the U.S and some countries are spending hundreds of millions of dollars per year to locate potentially economic mineral resources, which makes it an expensive process. HyLogger—an automated hyperspectral logging technology that characterizes minerals in drill core samples, can save the mining industry millions of dollars by locating potentially economic mineral resources faster and more accurately than a human can.
An industry that needs wearable technology more than any other is the mining industry. The good news is that we’re already seeing wearable technology stake a claim in the mining sector. An example of this is SmartCap—a wearable mining innovation and advanced fatigue monitoring tool in the guise of a baseball cap.
The SmartCap observes the brain of the wearer to determine his or level of alertness. In addition to the SmartCap, there are wearables that can detect monoxide or other gases, and smart watches and vests that could indicate the GPS location of a worker and send a signal to other tools on site, such as a collision avoidance system. Quite clearly, wearable technology capable of examining the biological condition of workers has real potential to boost safety throughout the mining industry.
Technology that is slowly starting to make its presence felt is 3D printing. We are already seeing its widespread use in the aerospace industry for a variety of reasons. With 3D printing, miners can develop custom parts on demand, which in turn can reduce delays in projects and cut the need for unplanned maintenance.
3D printing has the potential to transform the maintenance supply chains for mines. In fact, some companies have already started 3D printing their parts. Mining companies no longer need to have a massive warehouse for spare parts. Instead, they can get everything they need for maintenance and upkeep through an on-site 3D printer.
The big data revolution is in full swing, enabling greater connectivity in industries and changing how they work. Just like businesses in other industries, mining companies today are creating connected network such as the ‘internet of things’ for their mines sites to collect, monitor, and process data. This is helping the companies to optimize their processes and control how they use their resources.
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by Bobby J Davidson
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