Digital technologies in the Australian mining sector

October 11, 2016 OpenSystems Media

According to a new report on the Smart Mining Market from Future Market Insights, the Australian mining sector has been experiencing a boom since 2003, but in recent years, declining productivity combined with increasing costs has reduced profitability significantly. The use of digital technologies is expected to address production issues by means of enhancing decision-making capabilities. The utilization of Internet of Things (IoT) can digitalize surveillance operations and improve the ability of Australian mines to increase safety and machine productivity.

Use of digital technologies facilitates real-time data tracking in mining activities

The use of IoT-enabled digital solutions is useful in bringing material improvements in terms of mine productivity and efficiency. For example, sensors can be placed in several locations throughout mines to detect indicators to conduct the following in real-time:

  • Improve asset utilization: The use of remote monitoring technologies can assess the onsite productivity of assets and facilitate managers to keep a check on breakdowns by reducing unplanned downtime.
  • Extend asset life: The use of predictive maintenance solutions are useful in foreseeing mechanical failure for at least two months. These monitoring capabilities can lead to reduced downtime and increased asset life.
  • Reduce costs: IoT solutions are useful in improving the sustainability and scalability of cost reduction initiatives. For example, remote monitoring allows multiple site management from a central unit, which results in better labor deployment and improved process efficiency.

Reduction of manual dependency improves health and safety in mining sector

Digital solutions such as RFID, video surveillance, and GPS in remote mining locations combined with real-time health management tools are useful for mining companies to track worker location and mine safety. RFID tags provide real-time location monitoring, which can be useful in rescue efforts in the event of an emergency. The integration of the technology with the mines’ HR database allows tracking unauthorized or unsafe personnel movements and employee attendance. For example, RFID tags improve workplace safety by means of alerting crane operators or heavy vehicle operators about the presence of personnel in the proximity.

Use of IoT-enabled digital solutions for improved profitability and safety in Australia’s mining industry

In an industry development, an Australian mining company is deploying digital solutions in the bid to improve productivity and optimizing the use of human and capital resources. The company has made investments in IT, automation, and remote monitoring and control in order to enhance productivity at its mines. The key components of the implemented digital solutions are as follows:

  • Remote operations center for monitoring all mines, ports, and rail systems from one central location
  • Intelligent drills, which are an automated drilling system that can be managed from a far off location
  • Automated haulage systems that allow material to be moved efficiently and safely
  • Driverless trains, which are heavy haul, autonomous, long-distance rail systems

The deployment of remote monitoring equipment solutions in association with automated trucks and rail systems has been useful in optimizing the payloads of haul trucks. Due to payload improvements, the company could reduce the number of haul trucks resulting in significant savings for the company. Consequently, the company foresees considerable improvements in human resource efficiency in the future.

Global smart mining market: An overview

The global smart mining industry was valued at $5.12 billion USD in 2013 and is expected to be worth $13 billion USD by 2020 increasing at a CAGR of 14.5 percent therein. Improved productivity, reduced operational cost, and improved workplace safety are some of the key factors driving the deployment of automated equipment and smart mining solutions.

The use of digital technologies is gaining traction in the mining sector owing to their numerous benefits. Increasing awareness among both underground and surface miners about the benefits of smart mining and its negligible impact on the environment are fueling the growth of the smart mining market globally.

Abhishek Budholiya is a tech blogger and digital marketing pro. As a technology and digital branding consultant with Future Market Insights, he offers his analysis on the tech market research landscape, especially when it pertains to the commercial viability of a new breakthrough.

Abhishek Budholiya, Future Market Insights
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