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Africa|electrification|Energy|Environment|Health|Infrastructure|Innovation|Mining|Power|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Safety|Solar|Storage|System|Systems|Technology|Training|Wireless|Equipment|Infrastructure|Operations

Wits University’s DigiMine aiming to serve as green data powerhouse for mining industry

Wits University Wits Mining Institute DigiMine Laboratory head Ahsan Mahboob interviewed by Mining Weekly's Martin Creamer. Video: Darlene Creamer.

14th June 2023

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – Most mining countries have already databased their green energy minerals and critical minerals and made them public so that investors and their global partners can evaluate national production capacities and capabilities.

Against that backdrop, the Wits Mining Institute’s DigiMine Laboratory at University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) is setting out to build a comprehensive database to contribute to the understanding of the special abilities of critical green minerals and their applications in renewable energy in particular.

Strong partnerships with mining industry players will be essential for DigiMine to achieve its goal of serving as a central hub for information exchange, research collaboration, technology development, innovation, and the driving of the growth of green energy into mining.

It is intent on integrating its system into South Africa’s upcoming national cadastral system, and in doing so, being able to provide feedback to the cadastral system.

It envisages that its comprehensive database system will be able to contribute to evidence-based policymaking and a supportive regulatory environment.

Once it has the database, it also expects to be able to provide the required framework for worker upskilling as per the needs of the industry.

“By having this database, we can look into the required skills and define customised courses and training material so that we can also contribute to human capital development,” DigiMine Laboratory head Ahsan Mahboob told Mining Weekly in a Zoom interview. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

DigiMine set out initially to serve South African mining’s research and development needs in wireless communication, surveying, mapping and navigation, health and safety, and systems integration for smart mining, and then this year came up with the two new themes of cybersecurity and green energy minerals and technologies, the latter addressing South African mining’s energy the transition needs.

“We’ve observed with our global partners that there is a dire need to focus on the optimisation of the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, into the mining operations," said Mahboob.

Most of the mining operations are moving towards renewables, for which storage is important, as well as to smart grid technology, which is required to transfer renewable energy to the mining operations. Then, most importantly, the energy management strategies need to ensure a reliable and efficient power supply, with DigiMine also planning to focus on power system modelling and planning.

“There’s a need to apply sophisticated and advanced numerical models to see how the energy is going to be utilised in mining operations, and how we can leverage on the digital technologies,” he said.

Green energy use can be modelled with the help of digital twinning technology, “and based on that model, you can optimise, based on artificial intelligence algorithms. The focus will be to do research in terms of demand pattern analysis and then integration requirements, which will definitely help cost-effectiveness,” added Mahboob.

Mining is also poised to benefit from the electrification of mining equipment, for which infrastructure to recharge battery electric vehicles is seen as critical. Wireless recharging stations being researched and developed obviate the need for vehicles to park while having their batteries recharged and allow for battery electric vehicles to be recharged while continuing to operate, which is also something on which DigiMine wants to focus and analyse.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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