JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The 'mine of tomorrow' is expected to be a factory-like entity equipped with a multiplicity of autonomous devices, which are controlled by technology savvy personnel working from remote centres, attendees of the natural resources forum heard in Sandton on Thursday.
The ‘mine of tomorrow’ would also show far more reverence to Mother Nature and be able to respond with agility to market needs, Dassault Systèmes Geovia CEO Raoul Jacquand told Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online in an exclusive interview. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video).
The French company is one of a growing number of technology providers that are heralding in a new autonomous mining era and advancing mining into the twenty-first century immediately with the help of digital platforms that establish seamless upstream and downstream processes and connect all stakeholders.
“Thankfully, there are a number of technology waves that we can ride,” said Jacquand, whose Dassault Systèmes is leveraging off the best practices that it has achieved in the automotive, aerospace, marine, offshore and defence industries to move the technology dial in mining.
Dassault Systèmes’ software provides design, modelling and simulation in three dimensions (3D) that facilitates the study of alternative scenarios ahead of actual capital investment.
The ingredients for the digitisation of mining operations include use of:
• the Internet of Things, which is already in widespread deployment in industries other than mining;
• Big Data, which is earmarked for geospacial application in mining;
• immersive visualisation, which is a harbinger of potential safety enhancements in underground mining;
• platform delivery, which is envisaged as the base from which technology will be launched into mining operations; and
• the fusion of design and simulation, which is ready for migration into mining following its successful application in the world of engineering.
“We’re taking best practice from other industries and mapping them to the specificities of the mining sector,” said Jacquand.
Speakers at the Dassault Systèmes event included mining scenario planner Clem Sunter and attendees were given a 3D experience of immersing themselves in an underground virtual mine.
Thursday’s natural resources forum was yet another indication of the aspirations of the mining industry to modernise and comes against the backdrop of Mining Weekly Online's reportage on mining operations that are either introducing new technologies or heading towards doing so soon.
Earlier this week diversified miner Vedanta Resources' Zinc International (VZI) announced a greenfield digitalisation initiative, involving a smart ore movement system being built into its Gamsberg zinc project.
Mining Weekly Online quoted VZI CEO Deshnee Naidoo as saying that a core philosophy at Vedanta is to embrace new technologies and that the company welcome the opportunity to become part of the “disruption revolution”.
Then, at a mining conference in London, Anglo American technical director Tony O’Neill expressed the view that the mining industry would be unrecognisable in five to seven years and that software able to execute instructions would be increasingly important in underground mining.
Astute operational modelling is paving the way for geologists, engineers, metallurgists, human resource practitioners, accountants and commercial personnel to aim at the same cash-spawning target and help mining to claw its way back in its fight for sustainability.