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Automation – The Future Of Mining IT

It’s an undisputed fact that technology is changing the workplace – and you shouldn’t resist these changes any longer. Embracing digital transformation will change the way the mining industry gets ore from the earth, along its supply chain, and to the end consumer.

The modern mining industry is undergoing possibly the most significant change to the way it operates since the advent of modern industrial equipment.


Thanks to the ongoing development of IT, mining companies — and businesses in all industries — are witnessing a convergence of their conventional operational technology and more advanced technological solutions, allowing for automation, improved efficiency, and further benefits.

“Transformation has the potential to unlock value worth tens of billions of dollars,” said BHP Chief Technology Officer Diane Jurgens at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch SmartMine conference last month.

In fact, for global resources giant BHP, digital transformation is all about automation. They’re not alone, either – increased adoption of automated technologies in the mining industry leads experts to believe it’ll grow by 50% over the next four years, to an estimated global value of USD $3.29 Billion in 2023.

What Does Automation Offer The Mining Industry?

Outsource Dangerous Work.

Perhaps the most direct function of automation is to simply remove employees from the mine altogether. Automated and remote technology allows mining businesses to get their staff members far away from dangerous situations and instead, have them monitor automated machines that handle the tasks directly.

For example, Australia mining company Rio Tinto has 73 driverless trucks move ore around the clock, all of which is monitored by employees up to 750 kilometers away.

Reduce Labor Costs.

Another by-product of removing laborers from the mines is that you don’t have to deal with human limitations.

As mentioned above, in Australia, Rio Tinto’s fleet of automated trucks are working around the clock to move ore from one place to another – something you couldn’t achieve with the same investment in a human counterpart. Similarly, in Sweden, Boliden and Ericsson have built an automated gold mine, which relies on a 5G network-enabled ventilation system that reduces energy requirements.

Likewise, in the US, Barrick Gold Corporation is working with Cisco Systems to integrated Wi-Fi sensors into their Nevada mines. These sensors allow them to track each miner’s output, with the goal of lowering production costs to USD $700 for every ounce of gold.

This is just one application of Business Intelligence, of which automation is a key facet.

With the right information, each choice you make can have attainable and expected positive results for your business; without that information, you may as well be gambling with the future of your company.

Business intelligence is the collection and analysis of data collected such as department productivity, overall growth, sales trends, and customer behavior. Applications of this data can range from something as simple as Spreadsheets for the organization, and storage of data to Online Analytical Processing or Reporting and Querying software. Each has a specific use and offers various benefits to your small business.

Reporting and querying software extracts, sorts, summarizes, and presents selected data. This data could range from sale reports of specific items to a measurement of the efficiency of mining operations.

Automated Cybersecurity.

These advanced types of cybersecurity software (firewalls, antivirus, antimalware) use artificial intelligence to better predict, identify and eliminate harmful malware.

Security based on advanced algorithms that can adapt and learn creates a system that can become familiar with the normal patterns associated with each user and device, detecting anomalies in those patterns quickly.

Essentially, something known as a neural net can be used in cybersecurity efforts. Based on a robust algorithm, the neural net can “learn” to spot patterns of data associated with previously identified and classified spear phishing emails.

By incorporating this technology into an email client’s spam filter, the filter will be able to spot fraudulent incoming emails and eliminate them before they reach the recipient.

One of the best parts about neural nets is that they continue to learn and improve the more that they are used. With increasingly more data to draw from, this Artificial Intelligence will become more and more accurate in doing its job.

In the end, modernizing your company (and the mining industry as a whole) doesn’t have to be a massive restructuring of the way you do business. Step by step you can affect these changes, simply consulting with an IT company about how to apply automation and other digital transformation practice to what you do.

By doing so, you can do more to keep your workers safe, lower production costs, and protect your data. The key? You have to be willing to start.

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