What is the Significance of Technology in Mining?

Disruptive innovation can create new markets by disrupting existing value networks, and displace established market-leading companies and products.

Fremont, CA: The mining industry is embracing innovations that deliver incremental improvements to operating practice but poor at accepting changes that bring about disruption. Sustaining or routine innovations is a common type of innovation in the industry that improves the performance of already existing products and services. On the other hand, disruptive innovations create new markets by disrupting existing value networks and displace established market-leading companies and products. It includes products or services that initiate a profound change in operating practice. Usually, this disruption is brought about by small companies rather than large companies in the mining industry. These innovations enable companies to stay ahead of their competitors as we enter the fourth industrial revolution.

One unique technology that has disrupted the mining industry would be blockchain. The technology has already changed the operations of numerous companies in the mining industry by being beneficial in being able to demonstrate conclusively that their metals/minerals, especially precious metals, cobalt, and diamonds are sourced ethically. A device like an advanced airborne gravity gradiometer (AGG) is used for determining the expansion area of a mineral body. It is successful in looking for mineral deposits based on density and electromagnetic signature of minerals, which is done before drilling to direct the location of boreholes. Another superior technology would be 3D laser scanning that is suitable for topographic surveys and is now replaced by drone surveys. It is possible with good resolution cameras where digital mapping with the camera and fixed cameras can get accurate readings. Thus, fully autonomous drone surveys by digital cameras will disrupt the mining industry.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), on the other hand, is through big data analytics, helps to make better decisions from full, accurate, and on-time data. Mine operating management systems collect data in a format that can be readily used for predictive analytics, store it and allow quick analysis and reporting through real-time dashboards for faster-informed decision making for optimization, inventory, and real-time on downtime analysis. This technology will allow investors to foresee operations performance and associated problems.