Role of Mining Technology to Protect the Environment

Speedy advances in technology innovation, including automation, digitization, and electrification, fundamentally change how the mining sector operates.

New technologies remodeling the sector include autonomous vehicles, remote operating centers, automated drilling, tunnel-boring systems, machine learning, etc.

In mining, green technology relates to technology that will reduce carbon emissions in operations and mitigate adverse environmental impacts.

What is green technology?

Green technology relates to technology that limits or reverses the effects of human activity on the planet.

For example, in mining, green technology speaks about technology that will reduce carbon emissions in operations and mitigate adverse environmental impacts. It incorporates using minerals and metals that support a transition to low-carbon technologies such as solar panels or wind power.

How does technology impact mining operations?

Technology can influence mining operations, involving safety and productivity, environmental protection, and opportunities for women.

Integrating technology into mining projects creates safer working conditions through enhanced confidential communication, automation, more sophisticated mineral and metal transportation, and emergency response measures.

Technological improvements in mining are also making operations more productive. This can be seen in robotics operating 24 hours a day, real-time monitoring of minerals and metals using mines and processing plants, and simulations at the mine design stage to test different solutions before implementation.

Technology in mining also aids in eliminating the excuse of this sector being too dangerous for women.

Innovation also supports environmental conservation. For example, tailings are being processed more efficiently through improved waste management efforts. The mining sector will also play a significant role in the circular economy. Using solar energy to power vehicles will also ensure a more sustainable mining sector.

Adopting new technology in mining could help address the sector's struggles with lack of diversity.

Technology in mining also supports eliminating the excuse of this sector being too hazardous for women since more jobs will be operated remotely from the rock face. Therefore, we hope to see employment gender gaps decrease thanks to technology.

What should mining companies bear in mind when adopting new tech?

The mining sector should cautiously consider new trends in traceability and collaboration when adopting innovative technologies.

Mining companies are below a magnifying glass. Consumers expect sustainability from manufacturers and the whole supply chain, from when the mineral or metal is determined to when it appears in the purchasing products.

Inclusive work with various sectors and actors within those sectors is essential to implementing technology in mining responsibly.

Cooperating with other sectors, such as universities, governments, and civil society. For example, companies realize that universities can bring valuable research and insight, the government can give incentives, suppliers can provide creative offers, and buyers can explain their needs.

Countries like Chile are using the cluster method of grouping multi-sectoral organizations together—such as a university, mining company, and government department—to reach the benefits of technology. Inclusive work with various actors within those sectors is key to implementing technology in mining responsibly.

Mining companies must also consider the social impacts of new technologies, particularly automation, that replace low- and medium-skilled workers. Usually filled by locals, those jobs are an important part of operating the social license. Unfortunately, the future mine will probably have fewer total jobs, and the new jobs created will likely be less beneficial for communities impacted by mining activity. IGF is working on these problems with its New Tech, New Deal project.

How can developing countries enhance environmental sustainability via tech in mining?

Developing countries frequently receive foreign direct investment for large-scale mining operations. This foreign investment arrives with more technology to increase productivity during the mining concession period.

Governmentsmodern needs to remain up to date on the latest innovations and changes brought to their jurisdictions to guarantee that increased productivity comes with balanced economic and social benefits over the life of the mine.

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