The disruption of business models through the advancement of digital technology has been a reality for other industries for many years. The digital transformation is now impacting the mining industry. From day-to-day data management to the prevention of bottlenecks and inefficiency, information technology is transforming the way the mining industry operates. Increasing demands for efficient production and worker safety are requiring traditional mining companies to embrace innovation and implement information technology to ensure advanced manufacturing and competitiveness throughout the industry. Currently, real-time data visualisation and real-time data analytics are the most used digital technologies across mining organisations with 31% and 30%. The following will list three of the main areas that will benefit from the implementation of information technology in the mining industry.
Mining companies are data-hungry. Information technology can help them locate mineral veins, determine operational risks and streamline operations. It’s no surprise that mining companies are revolutionising how they collect data in the field. With the help of the Internet of Things and advanced software, nearly every device in a modern mine should be “smart” and constantly relaying data such as water pressure, temperature, concentration of gases and other information. With this data, managers can take fast, decisive action to increase efficiency, improve safety and increase the operation’s sustainability.
Mining organisations are realising the benefits of automation in terms of improved productivity, enhanced efficiency and better safety. This translates into greater reliance on technology through remote-controlled equipment and management of mining operations across diverse locations from a central hub.
Mining organisations typically have various systems to manage different sets of data. For mine automation to be effective, it is crucial to ensure systems integration so that all systems work in a synchronous manner to enable seamless data exchange. Since human intervention is minimal, the system should provide automatic alerts and initiate corrective action.
Connectivity is a challenge that is inherent with mining operations as most sites are located in far-flung areas. This makes it important to ensure remote-controlled operations of the various mining sites through an effective centralized management structure.
Remote operations also translate into lesser on-site team deployment, helping reduce costs and improve employee safety and productivity. At the core of the remote operation is an efficient and reliable communication system – one that ensures seamless channels for interaction between the control hub and various mining sites and enables collaboration between teams at each of these locations.
With time, information technology’s predictive and analytical capabilities will improve. Management won’t be pushed out of their decision-making role, but in situations where many variables are at play or time is of the essence, mining companies will likely move operations to algorithms. Data and specifically the ability to organise, manage, process and utilise that data will become a competitive differentiator.
We can also expect to see further developments to make mining more sustainable. Companies will put the power of data toward minimising mining’s negative effects on surrounding ecosystems and communities, moving toward resource extraction with minimal footprint.
Information technology is radically transforming mining, with an eye toward productivity, safety and sustainability. With time, we’ll see even more significant changes.
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