Surface Mining

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Surface Mining: Trends (2)

Some additional trends impacting the surface mining industry include increasing use of advanced analytics and sensors, adoption of machine learning and big data, blockchain, industrial internet of things, as well as increasing human-machine interactions.

Advanced Analytics and Sensors

  • Advanced analytics and sensors are increasingly been adopted in surface mining and are helping to increase output and chemical recovery, lower maintenance costs, and reduce downtime.
  • According to McKinsey, in some mines "advanced analytics systems are ingesting all the data in the concentration environment and using it to improve processes. Instead of achieving the local optimum through automatic process control, this approach delivers a global optimum. Doing that can boost yield energy throughput."
  • Advanced analytics allows surface mine companies to better understand the probability of future events using data generated over time.
  • Companies such as IBM and Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology are continually working to improve data-driven productivity and predictive maintenance services offering the surface mining industry.

Machine Learning and Big Data

  • Scientists are currently experimenting with big data and machine learning to discover new, potentially lucrative mineral deposits.
  • As the science progress, scientists believe that by considering several factors, they will be able to say if there is a 2% or 96% chance there will be a lucrative deposit in a place.
  • Machine learning has the potential to reduce the cost used in mineral exploration significantly.
  • The use of technological advances such as machine learning, AI, advanced analytics, "improved statistical techniques for integrating data, help turn vast data sets into insight about the probability of future events."
  • Machine learning and big data can also help with predictive maintenance, reducing equipment downtime and maximizing efficiency.

Human-Machine Interaction and Industrial internet of things (IIoT)

  • Smart tools such as smart goggles are being used to feed data and instructions to workers working in mines, improving operating disciplines.
  • Work clothing and other apparels are also being incorporated with sensors that transmit "data to managers about hazardous conditions and the physical condition of the workers themselves, improving safety outcomes." Another tool that is transforming mining in a similar way is industrial internet of things (IIoT).
  • According to industry experts, IIoT is a "digital technology that can be particularly transformative for mining. Strategically placed sensors connected to the internet can enable mines to collect huge amounts of data in real-time. Best of all, the data from IIoT sensors is highly actionable, helping managers to make smart decisions that can improve efficiency, increase safety, cut costs and more."

Blockchain in Mining

  • Blockchain provides security and transparency in business transactions, changes made to documents, designs, and other business agreements, making it relevant to the surface mining industry. It is tamper-proof and secure while providing real-time visibility.
  • According to Forbes, a rising number of mining companies have started embracing Blockchain technology. This is because it can simplify compliance, boost safety, and minimize errors while allowing for faster and secure transactions.
  • Analyst state that when blockchain technology is combined with "IIoT sensors that can physically track an ore or metal, blockchain can potentially offer reassurance to regulators and consumers that mining companies are meeting compliance and acting responsibly. More revolutionary uses of blockchain could include identifying and trading ore bodies — even ones that have yet to be mined. "
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