As the global push for Net Zero carbon emissions gains momentum, the mining industry is adapting to support the production of batteries, electric vehicles, and renewable energy. This transformation involves the introduction of innovative technologies to improve efficiency, worker safety, and the environmental impact of mining operations. In this article, we’ll explore some of this emerging mining technology and its role in shaping the industry’s future.
1. Bulk air coolers (BACs) for optimal working conditions
Working in the mining industry can be challenging, especially in countries like South Africa and Australia, where the weather gets extremely hot. To ensure a healthier and safer work environment, companies like IWC (Pty) Ltd have developed containerised BACs designed for both surface and underground use. These coolers help maintain optimal underground temperatures, resulting in a far more comfortable working environment — and, as a result, increased productivity.
IWC’s latest BACs are available in single and two-stage configurations, offering air cooling rates of up to 1,100 kW. Their easily portable design allows them to be deployed at remote mine sites and relocated as needed. This flexibility makes them a great investment for mining operations, as they can be repurposed for spot cooling applications at other mines.
2. Digitisation for enhanced efficiency and safety
Going digital helps mine operators cut down on equipment and labour costs, speed up setup, and boost worker health and safety. Companies like ABB are leading the charge in the digital realm, offering solutions for remote teamwork and on-the-spot field asset data management. In 2023, digital tech continues to be a major trend shaping the mining world.
3. Predictive maintenance for improved equipment performance
Predictive maintenance systems, like ABB Grinding Connect, use sensors and internet smarts to help mine operators take care of equipment before issues pop up. This proactive approach is a game changer for safety and efficiency, so it’s no surprise that these systems are expected to grow in popularity.
4. Sensor-based asset management systems for smarter decision-making
Sensor-based asset management systems, like those developed by Probe IMT, provide real-time, accurate information to help mining companies make better decisions regarding air quality, worker location, lighting systems, and energy management. These systems also power smart mobility. Level 9 technology helps vehicles automatically take evasive action where needed and ensures collisions are avoided — which is obviously good news for mine workers’ safety.
5. Digital twins for enhanced maintenance, training, and asset management
Digital twins, which are like virtual copies of assets or environments, are becoming more popular in underground and deep-sea mining. They’re great for improving maintenance, training, and asset management, and they’re set to keep making a big splash as a key tech innovation in the mining world throughout 2023. These can be integrated with Virtual Reality applications to provide interactive content that provides valuable insights beyond Operational best practice, into Sales and Marketing and Investor reltations.
6. 3D Imaging for better resource planning
3D imaging tech, such as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and photogrammetry, is changing the game for mining companies when it comes to planning and managing their resources. These nifty tools create incredibly detailed and accurate 3D models of mine sites and deposits, making it easier to allocate resources efficiently, design mines more effectively, and gain a deeper understanding of the geological structures involved.
7. Dust suppression for a cleaner work environment
Dust suppression techniques from companies like Global Road Technologies play a crucial role in keeping the air clean and breathable for workers in the mining industry. By using methods like water mist systems, special chemical additives, and surface treatments, mining operations can effectively keep dust under control and create a healthier working environment. Not only do these approaches make the air safer to breathe, but they also help mines meet environmental regulations and contribute to a greener mining operation.
Conclusion: 7 innovations that are keeping mines moving in 2023
Embracing innovative technologies like BACs, digital twins, and sensor-based asset management systems is crucial for the mining industry as it evolves to meet the demands of a sustainable future. As we progress through 2023 and beyond, these advancements will continue to reshape the industry, creating safer, more efficient, and environmentally friendly mining operations.
By staying at the forefront of technological development, the mining industry can contribute significantly to achieving our Net Zero carbon emission goals and ensuring a greener future for generations to come.