Prospect of Mining and Technological Advancements

Data, connectivity, telecommunications, and automation are among the technologies miners are heavily investing in, according to the Equinix Mining Technology Report.

FREMONT, CA: Digitalization is driving the mining industry's future. Planning and designing an entirely digitally connected mine with a zero-carbon footprint is the holy grail for most mining companies worldwide.

The leaders in these fields demonstrate the benefits of the new paradigm of much lower costs, higher production rates, and adherence to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) requirements.

Digital technology is pervasive. No industry can afford to ignore it due to the reductions in operational costs and increases in efficiency and speed. Miners undoubtedly have not.

The operational and senior managers of a mine rely on digital hardware and software to monitor, report, and record their mine's performance in real time.

Miners are currently constructing physical and virtual networks of IoT (Internet of Things) systems to establish always-on communication links between IT/OT (Information Technology/Operational Technology), which significantly positively impacts a mine's profitability and ESG concerns. These systems can increase a mine's operational efficiency, reduce its carbon footprint, and cut costs across its processes, among other benefits.

Currently, spatial and geospatial data are utilized for experimentation and creating virtual mining experiences. A miner could have access to a 3D model of the mine's environment from anywhere in the world, such as from New York, London, or Buenos Aires. Miners can use Virtual Reality (VR) to "walk" around the mine. Miners can also add Augmented Reality (AR) and participate in a training exercise on many of the mine's systems without leaving their desks.

Digital Twinning is a straightforward concept but a massive and complicated undertaking. Miners replicate every aspect of their mine's operations virtually. All assets, all management and production processes, supply-chain information, and every piece of data are collected from the millions of sensors installed on every piece of system-connected equipment.

Miners can then apply intelligent rules and filters to all the data collected throughout the operation. A properly configured artificial intelligence (AI) software then monitors and analyzes every iota of information it ingests, reacting to any anomalous operational changes it detects that contradict its programming.

This enables proactive, as opposed to reactive, actions regarding personnel, equipment, and all other vital systems of a mine's operation.

Historically, maintenance was performed based on elapsed time. After a predetermined interval, services were achieved regardless of whether they were required. This new method enables sensors to report on the real-time condition of all equipment, resulting in greater utilization of a mine's assets.

The objective is to implement a cyber-physical system that enables a miner to better plan to align with company strategy and objectives, such as increases in productivity and shorter decision-making processes or a decrease in waste and an increase in equipment utilization. Overall, a desire for cost reduction, increased efficiency, and a zero-waste, carbon-neutral future.