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Process Automation – an important driver in creating a sustainable future for mining

Hennie Colyn

Hennie Colyn

24th October 2023

     

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This article has been supplied by the author and has not been written or solicited by Creamer Media. It may be available only for a limited time on this website.

By Hennie Colyn, Direct Sales Executive: Process Automation at Schneider Electric

Process automation plays vital role in making the mining industry more sustainable. It enhances operational efficiency whilst reducing environmental impact. By leveraging advanced automation systems, mining companies can optimise resource utilisation, minimise energy consumption, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Process automation contributes to sustainability is by enabling precise and data-driven decision-making. It delivers real-time monitoring and control of mining operations from a central location that allow for immediate response and adjustments to changing conditions. This ensures that processes are running at its most efficient levels, minimising waste and unnecessary resource usage.

Importantly, process automation facilitates predictive maintenance, which assist in identifying and addressing mining equipment issues before it escalates into costly breakdowns. This proactive approach not only minimises downtime but also extends the lifespan of mining equipment, reducing the need for frequent replacements and associated resource consumption.

Sustainable mining with process automation

An important differentiator of process automation is its ability to be be used selective mining, targeting high-grade ore deposits with precision. This reduces the amount of overburden that needs to be removed, minimising the environmental disturbance, and preserving surrounding ecosystems.

According to research, as much as five tons of overburden can be produced for every ton of productive material extracted, depending on the mining method used.  Minimising overburden is therefore a major sustainability plus point.

Also, automation can help streamline mining operations’, eliminating inefficiencies that can negatively impact the business and the environment. For instance, analytics solutions can help identify areas where an organisation is producing excess waste, enabling mining organisations to take actions to mitigate it.

Process automation offer important benefits to mining operations: 

  • Safety - direct exposure to mining processes and equipment operations pose a significant risk to miners. By automating a process, companies can take the necessary steps to alleviate potential injury to their operators.  Furthermore, certain parts of the mining process can be automated, exposing fewer workers to hazardous areas.
  • Transparency of consumption –energy visibility is the starting point for decarbonisation, obtaining insights from across the value chain is vital to measuring what you use and control what you measure. 
  • Allows for precise and data-driven decision making that removes any bias or subjectivity from the process. By relying on data and analysis, mining organisations can make decisions based solely on facts rather than personal preferences, previous experience, or opinions.
  • Offers predictive maintenance which seeks to prevent equipment failure and downtime by connecting IoT-enabled enterprise assets, applying advanced analytics to the real-time data it delivers, and using the resultant insights to inform educated, cost-effective, and efficient maintenance protocols.

Ultimately, process automation offers precise, data-driven analytics that can assist mining organisations in reducing resource consumption, improving safety whilst meeting sustainable requirements and targets.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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