FIRST out of the blocks in the race to develop an autonomous mining truck, Caterpillar is no longer the frontrunner. But it’s not important to be first, representatives of the equipment giant maintain; what’s important is to have the best technology and building blocks for “an autonomous mine” they now see as inevitable.
CENTRALISATION, visualisation, simulation, optimisation, automation and communication are all words linked to technologies that industry leaders around the world believe can radically change mining in the decade ahead. Corporate “motivation”, they say, has been lacking in the past. That’s why two words have fundamentally changed that perspective now.
MINERS seem to have a growing affection for technology. But two radical concepts look likely to test the depth of that fondness – literally – in the coming months.
THE mining industry has struggled with implementing technology over its existence, however, pressures from society to keep up with safety and productivity improvements are offering an unprecedented opportunity to investigate, innovate and implement new solutions.
DON’T get too excited about new technology – there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit that hasn’t been picked and it’s hanging there still for good reason.
THE bedrock of mining’s technology age is certain to be robust communication networks, with new mine proponents and their technical advisors now looking for maximum leverage from an elevated technological base.
THE mining industry is seen to have a lot of catching up to do to reap the full benefits from existing technologies before it goes on some new crusade looking for the holy grail of fully robotic mining. But many believe it still must find a way to look beyond current machines and processes into a future where they may well be redundant.
HIGHGRADE did not ask respondents to its Five technologies that will rock the mining world survey to name individual technologies and products. But 20 items mentioned most frequently among more than 130 responses are listed here in order.
MINING industry people don’t talk about a ‘technology nirvana’ without the regular rider: no change to processes, no successful or lasting benefits from technology. That proviso, of course, applies to all parts of the technology integration process, whether it pertains to a new or brownfields project, from the front-end engineering to commissioning and ongoing support.
EXTRACTING valuable material buried under a mountain of waste. That’s the big challenge for today’s mining industry information systems leader (or whatever name you’re currently giving them).