Mines’ technology push requires more intensive collaboration

12th July 2019

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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As mining companies adjust to the digital era with new technologies, there is an increasing shift in the traditional approaches between mines and suppliers.

Miners, looking to new technologies to improve their productivity and recalibrate their cost structures, are starting to think differently about how they approach digitalisation and automation, and the longer-term, multiple partnerships they require to meet their needs.

The challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age now require more intensive collaboration, with mining giants outlining their needs and challenges, and suppliers exploring a range of customised potential solutions.

However, in response to the complexity of fields, such as software development, mining firms may need to have multiple service pro- viders and contractors collaborating on solutions on a companywide level, says BME software product manager Christiaan Liebenberg.

“The growing sophistication of mining software – and the need for strategic decisions at orporate level – means that mining companies will no longer be looking for solutions that serve only one mining site.”

He explains that miners want solutions that can be implemented across their mining operations portfolio – irrespective of where these sites are located geographically – with the capabilities of digital communication and Internet links allowing the generation of wide-ranging and integrated solutions.

“The sheer scale and complexity of these systems put technological collaboration at the top of the mining agenda,” he adds, highlighting the necessity for mines and their suppliers to build closer relationships, which is also the case for the various suppliers that are required to work together to deliver digital solutions.

Meanwhile, significant progress has been made in enhancing mines’ ability to monitor performance and provide data in real time, allowing better and quicker decision-making based on the data being received.

“High-accuracy global positioning system technology brings much greater precision to mining operations, [including] assisting with various tasks, from precision drilling and blasthole identification to truck navigation,” he notes.

The growing volumes of data to be usefully harnessed require a transition into data ecosystems that cater for data velocity, variety, volume and veracity.

“This has led to continuous development in the field of Big Data, upon which advanced analytical algorithms can be built – including machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to predict future outcomes.”

The more advanced techniques for monitoring, assessing and controlling processes are leading to improved anticipation of potential failure of equipment.

The prolonged slump in commodity prices – along with no significant increase in productivity gains – means that technology is now a key driver of enterprise sustainability.

“The development of new technologies and related software has been crucial in optimising equipment efficiency, as well as process and system streamlining of material flow,” Liebenberg adds.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor




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