Visit a mine today and you will find the pick and the chisel have been largely replaced by the laptop and smartphone. We look at how new technologies are transforming the mining sector.
Digitalization and automation are now the new paradigm in mining. The ability to collect, assess and utilize data is being integrated into all aspects of the industry, from the way ore is mined, through maintenance and equipment repairs, communication, and environmental and safety inspections, to procurement. At the same time, many mining processes are now automated, either via remote control or by installing autonomous machinery.
These changes are fundamentally changing the way ore is mined and processed. The ability to analyze and sort ores in real-time, automatically, is allowing mines to operate more efficiently and with greater safety.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, recognition of the advantages of digitalization and automation had begun to transform the industry. It is estimated these changes will eventually impact 100% of all occupations in the industry.
Safety is one of the primary advantages of adopting a more technological approach to mining. For example, innovative jet-boring and remote mining techniques are being used to extract high-grade uranium safely without the need for humans to interact with the ore.
The distances that can be achieved between operatives, and operatives and the mine face, mean this technology has been highly efficient during the pandemic. Social and physical distances can be maintained without loss of production, something that would have been impossible with manpower-intensive practices.
Alongside better productivity, these technological advances are also delivering greater reliability while reducing costs. At the same time, the flexibility that these technologies provide are making the industry more attractive to new talent. The industry is now seen as a place where career development and advancement can be achieved.
Digitalization and automation are the first steps in a technological shift that will completely transform the mining industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has merely accelerated a change that was already underway. It is now predicted that changes that would have taken a decade to come into effect, will now be in place within five to six years.
This is only the start of a process that will see the pick and the shovel consigned too distant memories. Growth in the sector is now founded on a combination of data and analytics, AI technologies, automation, robotics, and virtual ecosystems. Competitive advantage will be gained by the companies that utilize this technology best. This does not just mean at the mine face, but at every step of the value chain.
Developing natural resources is a vital component of Canada’s economy. It is therefore important to find better ways to achieve the removal of the necessary ores without excessive negative impact on the environment. New technologies are providing some of the solutions. For example, new recycling technologies are being used to reduce the volume of contaminated water.
Canada stands at the forefront of the adoption of these new, cleaner technologies. Innovation is the mechanism by which it is able to not only improve productivity, but also increase safety and reduce the industry’s environmental impact.
Our world is now defined by technology. From the smart phone to the electric car, this electrified future required the bounties of the earth to function – copper for wiring, nickel and lithium for batteries, etc. By adopting new technologies that digitalize and automate, the mining industry is now part of the solution that creates a safer and greener world.
SGS was involved in the development of ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety. ISO 45001 is for organizations that are serious about improving employee safety, reducing workplace risks and creating better, safer working conditions in the mining industry.
In addition, SGS’s technical experts can assist organizations with the selection of appropriate online technology to permit remote auditing. QIIQ is a remote auditing app that directly connects the auditor with key personnel. It allows direct interaction and real-time sharing of information. Utilizing QiiQ will allow organizations to complete their migration to ISO 45001, thereby mitigation disruption to their management systems, while complying with social distancing requirements. Alternatively, other web conferencing applications can be used, if required.
Learn more about SGS ISO 45001 Services.
SGS’s expertise in mining places us at the forefront of the industry. We are an ethical partner for the mining sector. With our global network of industry specialists and cutting-edge facilities, SGS provides trusted third party services to exploration firms, mining companies, financial organizations and governments around the world. Partnering with SGS gives you an independent, ethical partner who you can trust to provide transparent and unbiased support to help you flourish in this challenging sector. Learn more about our mining-related services.