Table of Contents
Autonomous mining is a new technology that has seen an increase in use across the mining industry, from haul trucks to security systems. How is it done, and what does it mean for the mining sector?
Believe it or not, autonomy is more than a machine or vehicle going from point A to point B. Through the use of machine learning, AI systems are able to collect and assess different key points of information and determine the most cost-effective and efficient method of work.
What are some autonomous technologies currently in use?
Let’s talk about some autonomous systems that are currently in use across the industry.
Autonomous vehicle technology
Autonomous haul trucks have already seen widespread use in mines across the world. By implementing autonomous haulage systems mines have seen massive increases in mine site efficiency and productivity, reports suggest Rio Tinto autonomous trucks have operated 700 hours more than conventional haul trucks. This is a massive increase in productivity, that will shape the material output in Australia within the mining sector.
Autonomy goes beyond trucks driving themselves, and into the world of mine site security.
Equipment installed with digital autonomous technology uses an artificial intelligence interface along with powerful sensors and scanners to secure a mine site. Whilst break-ins aren’t too common, accidents are. If a technology reads there is a potential hazard, the appropriate people are contacted and alerted.
More than this, mine site traffic can be directed by autonomous systems, through the use of cameras, boom gates, and live traffic feeds. This may seem like a non-issue, but for sites with a lot of dangerous machinery and plants, traffic control needs to be taken seriously. Autonomy is just another step in making the mine site safer for everyone.
Drones have become an essential tool for mine site exploration, surveying, and site analysis. Autonomous drones further streamline this process and offer immediate data for analysis, without losing time. An autonomous drone operates much in the same way the other systems do, with a set of instructions and AI systems to help it make judgement calls and decisions.
Autonomous plants aren’t as common today as haul trucks and security systems within the mining industry, but they’re seeing a rise in popularity and usage. Drill rigs, for example, are a plant that has seen autonomous equipment installed, what this means is that workers can overview their rig from a safe distance, to ensure it’s doing its work correctly and safely.
How is autonomy changing the mining industry?
With advances in technology, we’re going to see a rise in autonomy across the mining sector. Technologies and systems are being developed to implement entire processing plants with autonomous operations. With advances in technology such as this, the floodgates have opened to explore new opportunities, risks, and asses economic advantages gained from autonomous equipment.
Higher material demand
With a push for autonomy, mining companies are thus increasing the supply of raw material output, at a higher and more consistent rate. There have been suggestions with higher output, higher demands will naturally come in place, increasing about 6 times the current amount by 2040.
With innovation comes sustainability
With autonomous operations, comes a higher level of efficiency and sustainability. How does that happen? It’s all in the technology used, and how it processes information. With machine learning, the equipment or plant is able to assess the best and most efficient route to get a job done on the fly, lowering the margin of operator error
What are the benefits of autonomous mining?
Autonomous mining is shifting the way traditional mining work is done, but what exactly are its benefits?
Safety and security
Mine site safety is always a key for concern within the industry. It isn’t a myth that a mine site is a dangerous place with a large potential for accidents and incidents. Mining operations are safer and more secure with the use of autonomous systems, as operators are able to stand at a distance to get their work done. This doesn’t mean their job doesn’t exist anymore, it’s more of a shift to a different skill set.
Higher level of efficiency and productivity across the board
Thanks to the use of machine learning in highly advanced AI systems, autonomous machines are able to make decisions. This is done through an interconnected system of resources, it assesses a set of information. This includes the operational economy, material costs, material obtainability and much more. Essentially it means it’ll make the most informed decision based on a number of different key points of information that are the most cost-efficient and eco-efficient.
Provide jobs with a new skillset
We mentioned this briefly in a previous point, but contrary to popular belief jobs aren’t going to be taken by AI. Many jobs will stay the same, for instance, site mechanics and technicians aren’t going anywhere. No matter how clever the AI, and whilst it may detect something is wrong, will need maintenance, repair work and upkeep.
What autonomy instead means for a lot of workers, is that skill set requirements are going to shift. This will likely be a more data-centric role and doesn’t mean workers with 10+ years in the industry aren’t going to be of any use. There will be a skillset transition onto a new operational platform.
Mining Autonomous Vehicles
One of the leading trends in autonomous mining is the utilisation of autonomous vehicles in mining, transforming traditional operations. Autonomous haul trucks, equipped with cutting-edge technology, significantly enhance mine site efficiency. Implementing autonomous technology not only boosts productivity but also shapes the material output landscape in the mining sector.
As technology evolves, autonomy is expected to spread throughout various aspects of mining operations. The potential integration of entire processing plants with autonomous operations opens up new opportunities, posing challenges and offering economic advantages.
Looking at autonomous mining technology?
We at Mining Technicians Group Australia have a range of equipment and services to upgrade your mine site to a smart and autonomous mine site. We are a team of highly skilled and professional technicians able to design and plan the best technologies on any mine site.
Our services include the installation of smart mining technologies, communication systems, maintenance and more. We also produce world-class autonomous technologies that are able to be fitted to almost any vehicle, whether it was originally designed to be autonomous or not with ease.
If you’re interested give us a call at: 08 9415 0748 or an email at: email@example.com