The mining industry has changed substantially in recent years. As technology develops and is continuously integrated throughout the world, further advancements are on the horizon. Considering the evolving views on environmental effect, safety, and efficiency
It’s nothing new for mines to use modern technology to increase output. The majority of the top mining organizations have already started their digital journey in some way. They have started by investing in autonomous and Internet of Things (IoT) based technology.
What Is Mining?
Mining is simply the extraction of minerals and metals from the earth. Some examples of substances that are mined are manganese, tantalum, copper, tin, nickel, iron ore, gold, silver, and diamonds.
For example, there are three principal ways to mine diamonds. The first method is pipe mining (primary deposits), which includes both open-pit and underground methods. Other methods are alluvial mining (secondary deposits); and marine mining.
The process of recovering diamonds from ore goes through five stages:
- Cyclonic separation plant
- Cleaned, weighed, and packaged
Trends That Will Influence the Mining Industry’s Future
1 Sustainability and Waste Prevention
A mine’s carbon footprint is considerable since it includes several energy-intensive activities. The extraction of diesel, which is the major energy sources for various machinery, including cars, excavators, and turbines, leads to significant consistent CO2 emissions.
As such, innovations that are meant to mitigate the risks are growing more popular. An example is the growing demand for lab-grown diamonds, which is more sustainable than a mined diamond. They do not harm the environment to the same extent as mining, which involves extraction from the earth and consuming fresh-water and fossil fuels.
A lab-grown diamond is “grown” in a lab using state-of-the-art equipment that mimics the growth of a genuine diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are identical to earth-mined diamonds in many ways, except that they are grown in a lab.
The jewelry production industry is one of the main consumers of lab-grown diamonds. They are consistently providing the market with stunning diamond necklaces, solitaire diamond rings, diamond earring studs, diamond tennis bracelets, etc.
2 Data and Digitization
Digitalization and data are major problems in the mining industry. We’ve seen across the mining industry that they’re leveraging data to become more efficient.
To stay competitive, reduce risk, and improve company efficiency, digitization is a need for the mining industry. IoT networks are being built by miners more frequently now, both physically and virtually.
IoT networks in mines continuously gather data. This gives operators a better understanding of how each component of a mining operation is doing.
Utilizing big data results in mines makes them operate more effectively and productively than ever before. It helps guarantee predictive maintenance to make better-informed judgments about the production process.
3 Remotely-Operated Machinery
We are all becoming more adept at working remotely. As mine excavations get deeper, more hazardous situations ensue. Despite the demand, it is crucial to ensure employees’ safety. Thus remotely controllable equipment is a significant trend that will continue to influence how mines run. This is already being adopted for mining diamonds, gold, and other precious metals.
4 Electric Vehicles
Battery-electric cars often have more advanced technological interfaces. They are helpful for safety with their more robust accident avoidance features. Additionally, it doesn’t produce dangerous diesel emissions. Electric cars require less ventilation, which saves money and energy for deep mines.
5 Drone Tech
Future developments in drone technology might also lead to the increase in mine safety. The mine is still a very dangerous and unpleasant place to work in.
In the mining sector, drones are used for a wide range of tasks. These tasks include mine assessments, inventory control, and hot spot detection, among others.
Drones are used for mine assessments to provide in-depth knowledge about the locations. Drones can be deployed before the start of mining activities to track their progress to see how the location changes over time. This eliminates all of the risks and expenses related to hiring personnel to work in these remote and dangerous areas.
6 Wearable Technology
Wearable technology advancements make them the perfect tool for mining labor tracking. They are particularly helpful for enhancing operator-based care and safety. They are most used particularly for underground mines. They also help guarantee field maintenance and real-time machine inspection instructions.
Key employees can be located right away thanks to these wearables’ real-time monitoring capabilities. They may also be used to track employee time and attendance records and determine areas where productivity can be improved.
Wearables and their function in a wider IoT-based monitoring network greatly speed up reaction times in the case of an emergency. This helps enhance worker safety by enabling operators and employees to be alerted right away when an issue occurs.
By limiting access to potentially hazardous regions of the mine, they can also reduce safety issues and future accidents.
Mining productivity has also increased. This is because employees are more efficiently managed and possible events that might cut down on working hours are reduced
7 Visualizations With GPS
Some mining firms have recently developed and installed Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) positioning and navigation systems on blast-hole drills.
Through a Moving Map Display (MMD) on a screen, these GPS systems create precise, three-dimensional renderings of the location of the drill bit or shovel tracks in real-time.
This enables the drill operator to properly control the drill from a distance. They can also maintain a specified shovel grade, or change the drill’s face position.
The system requires robust GPS components to endure the frequently harsh external conditions. This technology can be adopted to mine precious metals such as diamonds, gold, iron ore, etc.
8 Wireless Monitoring
Most mines today still need to replace manual or automated cable readings with wireless monitoring systems. This will help promote virtual operations. Mines may digitize assets and track their performance in real-time using wireless monitoring.
Working with non-real-time information can have a significant influence on mining operations. This is because, by the time miners gather data and return to the office, it has already become obsolete.
Operators can reduce hazards with cabled readings by automating the data collection procedures.
Operating expenses are reduced with wireless monitoring systems. This is because mining businesses no longer need to send a person to read the data, saving money on staffing, car, and fuel costs. Critical assets are maintained more effectively, which raises the return on investment.
In conclusion, the trends discussed in this article are already transforming the mining industry. Drone technology, wireless monitoring, and remote-operated tech are helping to ensure safety in mines.
Wearable technology is used to monitor miners in real-time. Also, sustainability, once a major concern of the industry, is now one of the main goals of its major innovations—such as the preference for battery-operated vehicles and for lab-grown gems.