Miners to rely heavily on automation, digitization and green processes

Miners to rely heavily on automation, digitization and green processes

Remote controlled and semi-autonomous load haul dumps are an increasing sight in underground mines

Mining companies are determined to develop operations that rest on high-end technologies, novel strategies and processes to ensure a safer, greener and more profitable results, a study released this week shows.

By transposing the digital world with the physical world, says Frost & Sullivan's latest analysis, new dimensions are being created within the industry, which help optimize production based on market demand, production capacity, and ore quality variations.

Analyst Sonia Francisco says that while China holds and produces the bulk of the world’s rare earths, several mining projects have been initiated internationally to increase supplies and reduce reliance on the Asian nation.

“South Africa, the U.S. and Australia are reopening their rare earth mines. Some regions are also commencing exploration and production activities to expand their reserve of rare earth minerals,” she writes in the latest Industry Scorecard for the Global Mining Industry.

Despite these efforts, the mining industry has not quite reached its full potential due to several challenges.

Mature mining countries such as Australia and Canada grapple with a shrinking workforce, tight regulations, and the rising costs of energy, reagents, mining equipment and construction.

Emerging mining countries, on the other hand, tend to struggle with resource nationalism and inadequate infrastructure. Insufficient knowledge of geological characteristics, ineffective environmental and government policies, and declining ore grades also inhibit development in emerging mining markets, according to Frost & Sullivan's report.

Social and environmental duties

Falling ore grades will create a more intensive mining industry with increased focus on water management and energy, say the experts.

Automation and technology innovation are being employed to resolve productivity constraints while green mining techniques like bio-mining are being implemented to reduce overall mining footprints.

“As the quest for new resources continues, upcoming segments like offshore mines will require extensive technology advancements to ensure that deposits are extracted from the sea floor without harming the marine ecosystem,” says Francisco. “The next frontier in the mining industry will include automation and digitalized mines that can effectively operate in deeper, harsher and more complex mining environments.”

Top 10 things a mining CEO should know

  1. What are China’s next options in its role as a dominant participant in the mining industry?
  2. Where are the next emerging mining hotspots?
  3. How is IT influencing operations in the mining industry?
  4. What are the mines of the future and what opportunities will they provide?
  5. What are the unique businesses models arising in the mining industry?
  6. Where is the next rare earth hub and who are some of the key market participants?
  7. Why is green mining important and how is it altering dynamics in the industry?
  8. How are the offshore mine investments expected to drive growth?
  9. How are companies improving links from the mine to the port?
  10. Which mining commodities are taking the lead from a competitive perspective?