As a technology company at the forefront of geoscientific information management software, acQuire is very interested in the mine of the future: understanding where the industry is going and having a hand in shaping that future is key to our mission.
Over the past two years we have witnessed the end of the mining super-cycle and companies globally have had to adjust to a new reality of tighter margins and uncertain futures.
To stay competitive long term, miners have had to change the way they do business – with their processes, technology and personnel – in a way that sets them up for the next upward cycle.
With so much technology entering mines around the world, including robotics and automation, it is not an option to continue doing business as usual. The jobs people do on site will change and we will see more removals of workers from places where they are exposed to hazards: underground, in vehicles and more.
In our podcast, The GIM Channel, we ask our guests what they think about the mine of the future. The views expressed have been wide ranging, but they converge around a theme of technological innovation and the various benefits to miners.
The way companies collect, organise, store and analyse their data will give them options of how to use it. Whether that means enhanced connectivity, a more productive slim-line workforce or the ability to get new value out of data, all expect to see radical change soon.
CEO of Austmine Christine Gibbs Stewart expects mining to go fully digital and in the process unite different parts of the mining process. Automation will break down siloes and increase efficiency.
“I loved it when Chris Salisbury talked about having a crusher that actually calls the truck. And being able to do that in an automated way. That’s what the mine of the future is going to look like: connected. We’re going to think differently when we plan mines: connectivity is going to be built in right at the beginning,” Gibbs Stewart said.
acQuire Managing Director Alison Atkins sees automation on site both reducing the number of workers required to sustain operations and increasing in the amount of useful data collected.
“There will be a lot more automation and a lot more technologies collecting the information as well as for analysis and interpretation. Automation from a robotic perspective means there’s less reliance on people to actually be on the mines working underground. I do see a lot more technologies that are less reliant on personnel in particular for information collection, which then does lead to a larger volume of data in itself,” Atkins said.
Zane Prickett, Director of Unearthed thinks the expertise in WA around mining and technology will lead to a new wave of robotics and automation leading to a reduced workforce on site.
“There will be less people needed…I think the opportunity is that WA’s uniquely positioned in Australia as being the thought-leaders within the technology space in mining. We can build the next generation and support the current generation in building globally significant technology companies that will come and be the robots and automation of mining for the future.”
Paul Murtagh, Director of Business Systems at the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines sees the overflow of useful geoscientific data as both an enormous challenge, but also an opportunity. Being able to use all the data collected with different applications will lead to new value.
“Moving large datasets into this cloud setting will ultimately improve interoperability, which is still an ongoing challenge in the mining industry between, for instance, modelling systems and GIM systems and other downstream applications,” Murtagh said. “I can see it’s going to deliver some interesting solutions.”