COVID offers time to enable Smart Mining
Digital resource center aims to help miners thrive post-COVID Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – June 3, 2020
Last updated 6/27/2020 at 6:16am
Axora, a new cross-industry innovation hub providing a global marketplace of digital solutions, has launched an online resource center aimed at helping mining companies rebound from and thrive after the COVID-19 pandemic.
This "Smart Mining" resource center provides the latest industry insights and access to digital solutions and technologies which mining companies can adopt to accelerate their business growth, reduce wasted investment, and avoid duplication.
"The downtime caused by COVID-19 offers mining companies a unique opportunity to improve their digital solutions, accelerate their digital transformation roadmaps and enable Smart Mining," said Axora Chief Commercial Officer Nick Mayhew. "The companies that use this moment to push themselves to make their mines smarter are the ones which will recover the quickest and thrive in the future."
While a smart mine is an evolving concept without a clear definition, it is widely agreed that three main technologies are involved in such an operation – smart device, smart connected devices, and internet of things.
There is an enormous range of mining technologies that fall under or are enabled by these three categories. Autonomous mining equipment, ore sorting, predictive maintenance, drone technology and remote health and safety monitoring are among these technologies that can help transform and revolutionize mining companies emerging from the global disruptions caused by novel coronavirus.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is causing an acceleration of digital transformation across the mining sector, as the need to be safer, more sustainable and more efficient has never been greater," Mayhew said. "We're seeing very specific technology themes emerging as key priorities, such as tech-enabled ore sorting, autonomous machinery and remote monitoring for health and safety, which are attracting urgent and significant investments, all enabling the so-called smart mining."
Axora sees smart mines going fully autonomous in the future – with machines extracting, loading, hauling, sorting, and processing minerals with no need for human interaction. Such futuristic machinery may even be able to identify pending mechanical failures and order the parts and repair itself.
While this may sound like it is straight out of science fiction, Australia-based Resolute Mining is ramping up the world's first fully automated underground gold mine at its Syama project in Mali.
More information on autonomous mining, including Syama, can be read in Robotic mines of the future are here published in the Jan. 8 edition of Metal Tech News.
The mining equipment at Resolute's Syama mine, however, is human monitored and the processing of ore there is not automated.
While the absolute autonomy of mining remains the stuff of science fiction, Axora said the development of individual smart mining technologies are milestones along the path to a mine that does not require humans – a mine less vulnerable to disruptions such as those caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Axora is also launching a survey which will investigate the impact of COVID-19 on digital innovation and home-working practices in the mining industry.