The mining industry is by far still a very labor intensive and costly affair. However, slowly they have started utilizing the digital technologies to reduce the costs, ensure workers safety and change the way they work.
The industry is facing increasing cost pressures. Digital transformation is likely to be on the agenda for miners. Digital technology can help literally at every stage of the mining process, from exploration, extraction, transportation to the processing of the ore and shipment.
In open pit mines, self-driving trucks could be controlled by operations center miles away, reduce human cost as there are no frequent breaks, improve safety and increase efficiency as no human intervention is required on the site. GPS enabled systems will help supervisors to know where the trucks are and optimize their routes for optimal utilization.
Sensors on remote deep-sea oil wells cause warning signs to flash at the central control center when problems arise.
In underground dangerous extraction zones like coalmines & chemical ore mines, remote-controlled equipment can reduce human factor involvement. With data visualization, miners can create heat maps or 3d maps of the entire mine.
These heavy earth moving machinery is very costly and any downtime affects the bottom line. Data collection and analysis allows understanding the health of the equipment and usage, which further helps in predictive maintenance, improving equipment reliability and reducing unplanned downtime.
Rio Tinto is one of the companies introducing autonomous trucks and drilling rigs to its iron-ore operations in Western Australia.
Barrick Gold has deployed several such digital technologies including handheld tablets to help engineers monitor job orders in its Nevada gold mine.
Within the mining and metals industry, digitalization will be a force that changes the nature of companies and their interaction with employees, communities, government and the environment at every step of the value chain.
From mineral exploration and valuation, through mining, ore processing, and metals production, to downstream sales and distribution, digitization is helping workers make better, faster & safer decisions.