For General Electric, mining's future is digital

General Electric's mining division is betting on mining's growing need for all things digital.

MINING.com spoke to Vice President and Global Mining Leader, Scott Phillips, at MINExpo in September.

"At surface mines and underground mines you are increasingly seeing operations that are more and more employing digital applications," says Phillips.

"I’ve seen a lot of movement towards that in the last couple of years."

Interview is edited for clarity:

MINING.com: What are customers seeing from the implementation of digital?

Scott Phillips: Our customers are absolutely getting it. They are focused on three areas, one of them being the products and technologies that are going to drive transformative outcomes in safety. Our collision avoidance system is a good example. Another area is how do we improve productivity, so it’s our asset performance manager or APM [asset performance management] that is significantly driving productivity gains not only in this industry but in other industries as well.

MINING.com: Can you provide more examples of miners using digital?

Scott Phillips: We have had great success at two or three mining customers operations where we’ve actually developed digital capabilities. We’ve been able to drive better quality ore bodies to the smelter and, as a consequence, we’ve been able to help our customers realize the significant improvement in the ore recovery rates, which is a key driver to the mining economics.

If you look across the top 40 mines, if we can even just get 1%—which we’ve seen we’ve been able to do at a few assets—that would be worth a $5 billion savings to that group of customers, so we think this could be potentially game changing for the customers.

MINING.com: Can you see some areas where digital is taking over?

Scott Phillips: At surface mines and underground mines you are increasingly seeing operations that are more and more employing digital applications. I’ve seen a lot of movement towards that in the last couple of years.

MINING.com: What are industry trends?

Scott Phillips: The focus is how do we bring together new technologies within our customers' operations to transform safety and unlock the productivity potential that our customers are looking for.