Home > News & Insights > Exploring Emerging Technology in the Mining Industry – by Rhiannon Compton

Exploring Emerging Technology in the Mining Industry – by Rhiannon Compton

Technology is a double-edged sword; it improves operational efficiency, drives greater productivity, and reduces the number of safety incidents; however, our technology skills have a half-life. Within five years, the skills and expertise are only 50% as valuable as they once were.

Technological transformation requires SME’s to identify tools that will suit the needs of the business; HR experts to know which skills the business will need in the future, and the business to be able to budget for regular training and development. This places mining companies under immense pressure to stay in front of the curve to remain competitive. The amount of innovation in this space is exponential. The likes of Microsoft, The Harry Butler Institute, the University of Cambridge (the list goes on!) are applying and continuously improving machine learning to assist in preliminary feasibility by utilising cameras to not only identify native flora and fauna, but also to understand the individual patterns of behaviour to provide deep insight into the impacts of construction and operations for any potential location.

PETRA Data Science has developed the world’s first digital twin AI software for mining operations, enabling mining companies to increase productivity, efficiency, and yield by showing mining engineers how to achieve their ‘best performance’ 24-7.

Using historic mine performance data, PETRA’s ‘MAXTA’ can provide fast, accurate predictions block by block for an entire orebody and indicate how the downstream value chain processes will behave for various geologies.

This is a quantum leap for the mining industry and with the ability to update and retrain automatically as new data becomes available, MAXTA is one of the most powerful mining tools on the market. Adopting virtual reality in business’ has been slow, however with increased capability and application, it is becoming increasingly popular for innovative training solutions within hazardous industries. Training is notoriously costly, taking time and additional resources from current state operations resulting in rushed, reactive and incomprehensive training and devastating safety statistics globally.

Over the last decade, companies like Virtual Reality Technologies (VRT) have allowed training to be brought back in-house, more cost-effective, and managed throughout the employee lifecycle. Globally, we have seen an increase in autonomous operating machinery and processes as a safety and productivity enabler, and subsequently, a means for sustainable mining.

Resolute Mining is leading the way in future-proof mining with its Syama Gold Mine in Mali. In partnership with Sandvik, Resolute Mining have designed Syama for automation, during February’s Robotics and Automation in Mining conference in Perth, Western Australia.

Resolute Project Director John Wheeler stated that the roadmap has been positive, with the effectiveness of Sandvik’s Autodig increasing by 30% since commencement and a 20% increase in drilling accuracy. Resolute is now assessing the management of the full value chain.

[Mining] Industry 4.0 has had a significant impact on the People within it. Increased efficiencies and a reduction in administrative and arduous tasks have led to more meaningful work for employees. However, it has also led to job shift and job loss.

60 mtpa iron ore mining company Roy Hill is leading the way in the job-shift movement. Although focused on innovation, continuous improvement and technology as an enabler, Roy Hill pledged to re-train, upskill and redeploy all of its truck drivers as they transition their existing fleet of 77 haul trucks manned to unmanned by mid-2021.

The people systems themselves have had a substantial impact on the management of operations; a single source of truth for people data, improvement of communications and stronger data insights to assist in accurate forecasting, planning and data-driven decision making.

The return on investment is clear; time saved, and more secure and accessible information 24 hours a day as with other roles who have had the burden of arduous tasks lifted, HR and management teams can focus on value-adding strategic work. All these continuous improvements and innovations have a significant and ongoing impact on the operations and resourcing of a mine site.

Companies need to be ready for change, be aware of the risks, and have subject matter experts available to assist in the strategic direction, opportunity identification and management of sustainable technological transformation. Change is costly, remaining the same is even more so, and the cost of getting it wrong has the highest potential for financial damage.

 

About Globe 24-7

Globe 24-7 (Globe) has been conducting human resources consulting and search assignments for local and international mining, power and energy companies around the world for over a decade. Globe has offices in the major markets of the world to ensure consulting assignments and search campaigns are effectively managed at both site and corporate locations and has grown internationally to now service small, mid-tier and large-scale companies through its project recruitment, search, HR consulting and HR Systems divisions.

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