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Visual Capitalist looks at the potential of smart mining

by Nicholas LePan | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | April 30, 2019

Click the image to see the full-size infographic.


Mining has traditionally been depicted with pack mules, pickaxes and rugged prospectors. Of course today’s industry is precisely the opposite in almost every respect. It’s high-tech, efficient and safe.

This is partly because modern mining companies are deploying the latest in sensor and cloud technology. These connected mines are improving the extraction process and workers’ safety while also boosting productivity.

This infographic comes to us from Natural Resources Canada and discusses how this sensor and cloud technology can be integrated into the extractive process.

What is smart mining?

Any mining operation today will have thousands or hundreds of thousands of sensors capturing in real time a vast swath of data.Mukani Moyo,
McKinsey senior expert

A connected mine uses data from sensor technology to effectively manage underground and pit mining operations.

From a single application on a mobile device, supervisors at mine sites can now receive alerts via SMS, email or in-app notifications. This helps them react to critical problems in real time and maximize productivity.

In addition, advanced data analytics can be applied to the raw data to create insights, visualizations and recommendations. This information is delivered to mine managers and employees in real time on their mobile devices.

Case study: Smart solutions in practice

Dundee Precious Metals TSX:DPM was one of the first companies to bring wireless networks into an underground mine. The company used RFID and Wi-Fi to monitor the location of equipment and people. The networks also allowed personnel to stay connected to the surface.

Once the networks were installed, communication was reliable and instantaneous—even at 600 metres underground, at the bottom of the mine. Workers could bring laptops and smartphones into the mine to stay connected to personnel and software on the surface.

With an RFID chip on every vehicle, machine and person, managers can see the location of everyone and everything in the mine. This helps prevent accidents and breakdowns, and streamlines operations in real time.

There are also environmental and cost-saving benefits. Using location data, an automated ventilation system can respond and minimize energy consumption.

Fans turn on and off as miners enter or leave an area. In addition, fan speeds adjust when machines or vehicles are running nearby to ensure that emissions are properly vented. This could drastically reduce a mine’s energy requirements.

Changing the nature of work: Remote working

These smart mining solutions are reducing the risks miners face and creating new opportunities for a tech-savvy generation.

Remote mine locations that revolve around shift work can place stress on workers and their families. With a connected infrastructure, mine employees and managers can monitor operations at a distant office.

There will always be a need for workers on site, but connected technology can create some town-based career opportunities and help stabilize families.

A sustainable future for mining

This is just the beginning.

Over time, data from sensor technology and cloud software will reveal insights that could help develop sustainable mining operations.

By minimizing their negative impacts, mining companies will be able to responsibly deliver the materials the modern world needs.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

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