What is Smart Mining and why is it so Important?
When thinking about the question, “What is Smart Mining?” most people may think it’s just hauling vehicles operating remotely, but it is so much more than just wirelessly operated machinery. In fact, autonomous vehicles are not remotely controller by one person- one vehicle, but controlled solely though software with one or two people overseeing and dealing with exceptions. Through the use of an interconnected system of new technologies, such as automated machinery and wireless monitoring systems, we have the ability to communicate with one another, collect data, and work to produce the most cost-efficient and productive mining operations.
The use of intelligent mining systems helps mining companies make more informed decisions in mining operations. This digitisation increases productivity and reduces costs, yet still prioritises worker safety. These technologies include: artificial intelligence, automated systems, wireless monitoring devices that collect valuable data, plus so much more.
Why is it so important to make our mines smart?
What is smart mining and why is it so important to the industry? The global smart mining market has increased exponentially over the last decade. It’s important for mining companies to implement new technologies that make mining a more streamlined process a safer one, all while increasing profits.
The Australian mining industry is huge, and it’s only going to get bigger, but with that greater risks can be involved. By implementing smart technologies, companies are making the mining process easier and more manageable for all involved. It allows for a higher level of safety without sacrificing on output.
What kind of technologies are available?
Automation and Robotics
This is the main one most people think of when it comes to defining what is smart mining. An automated system is more than a vehicle or plant operated wirelessly, though. It’s a system controlled by an AI, that through machine learning and communicating with other systems around the mine, the AI operates at the most efficient and cost-effective level possible. Plants and vehicles can be operated through Automation, as well as drones, sensor systems, and monitoring systems.
Unified Artificial Intelligence technologies
A system called an IoT system (Internet of Things) is a platform that allows for multiple technologies to communicate with one another. As an example, there may be a communication warning sent to surrounding systems and machines if there is the chance of a possible collapse, so then any plants in that area will give an alert to notify any surrounding workers to clear the area and make it to a safe location.
Wireless monitoring of operations and assets
Even though these smart mining systems are communicating with one another, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any human input. IoT systems allow users to input and monitor anything going on. Operational data is provided to the user, so they can check assets like water pressure, dams, key mining operations and whether there are any signs of damage or irregularities. Without this kind of system in place, precious work hours can be wasted on just monitoring something, whereas workers can prioritise their time on something else more important or pressing
What are the benefits of smart mining/digitalising mines?
Reduced operational costs
Smart systems in place can choose the most cost-effective method to operate as well as monitor maintenance needs. So if there is something that needs replacing or mending, it will alert workers to this, preventing something going wrong unexpectedly, that may halt operations for days.
For any mining company, protecting their valuable data from any security breaches is important. So an aspect of smart mining is the capability to ensure data is safe from any data miners or hackers. Digitising a mine doesn’t mean mining companies will risk their assets and data being breached. There are many systems in place to prevent any external attacks by having data stored on servers on-site or nearby to the site that is only accessible to those who have permission, rather than having it stored on an internet cloud system.
The mining industry can be a dangerous field to work in, with numerous risks involved for the individual worker. Smart mining companies are able to reduce the risks involved through the use of the digital technologies available to them. Not only because sites can be operated autonomously and wirelessly, but because there are monitoring systems in place that can detect potentially unforeseen safety hazards such as collapses, unbreathable air, fires, or any potential system failures.
Smart mining enables better resource management. Through data-driven insights, mining companies can optimise the use of resources like water and energy, reducing waste and conserving valuable resources. This not only benefits the environment but also lowers operational costs.
Digitalisation streamlines the exploration process by enabling geologists and mining engineers to analyse vast amounts of geological data quickly. This leads to more efficient and cost-effective exploration campaigns, saving both time and resources.
The era of Smart Mining is now!
So, now you know what smart mining is and how it can benefit the mining industry. If you’re a mining business owner, to increase profits, lower costs, and offer higher safety for your workers, get in touch with us at Mining Technicians Group Australia. We provide Australian mining equipment and technology implementation services that specialises in taking advantage of smart technologies and communication technologies in the mining industry. Our technicians and designers can offer innovative solutions that cater to the client’s specific needs. Check out our website for a list of our services, or get in contact with one of our smart mining experts for any advice you may need.