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Mining technology and innovation

Mining technology and innovation

Discover the latest in clever thinking

Mining industry professionals have always been known for being problem-solvers, finding safer and more efficient ways to mine and process minerals.

Discover the latest in clever thinking as we share some thought-provoking insights and latest innovations from mining. Explore new approaches to food waste management in mining, learn more about how technology is helping solve big mining challenges, and gain an in-depth understanding of how innovative thinking is shaping the resources sector.

Case study

Increasing the sustainability of organic waste in mining

Food waste generated by mining operations presents significant disposal challenges, with transportation to landfill sites and the disposal itself being both costly with damaging environmental impacts.

In 2020, AusIMM collaborated with Green Eco Technologies to showcase waste-reduction opportunities for the conversion and re-purposing of putrescible organic waste.

Ten mining challenges technology could solve

As we move further into the 21st century, our sector is making great gains in automation and digitalisation. However, there are still critical challenges facing our industry that, for the most part, will be solved by innovative professionals and technology.  Richard Price MAusIMM explored some of these challenges – and their potential solutions – in a recent AusIMM Bulletin article. Check out the list below. 

1. The liquefaction of tailings

Addressing this challenge will involve an as-yet undiscovered technological solution, with a number of players already putting their hands up to assist.

2. Communicating to ever-deeper mines

Two-way communication, particularly with personnel (as opposed to vehicles), remains a challenge for the thousands of workers who travel several kilometres into the earth in increasingly deep mines.

3. Extracting minerals from lower grades

Technology will drive such cut-off grades even lower, by lowering exploration and exploitation costs. Increased plant automation and data analytics are already being applied to mineral processing and starting to achieve positive results.

4. Small footprint mining

Technology will continue to automate machinery, which will drive down onsite operational personnel required. The reduction in onsite operational personnel requirement will then reduce the environmental footprint that the mining (not necessarily exploration) industry currently has.

5. The ‘home-away-from-home’ challenge

The promotion and protection of good mental health for fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers is beginning to be addressed. One possible future could involve holographic imagery and virtual or augmented reality – imagine being able to sit down to dinner with your loved one to eat the same meal, even though you are thousands of kilometres away!

6. Discovering orebodies undercover

It is well-known that the Western Mining Corporation took around six years to discover the massive Olympic Dam orebody, which was covered under some 300 metres of barren material. The tools available to geologists will only get better as computers become more powerful and more data is harnessed in exploration.

7. Underground coal mining and coal workers pneumoconiosis

Coal dust and methane explosions still provide real and dangerous risks to underground coal mine workers, especially following the resurfacing of coal workers pneumoconiosis (CWP) in Queensland. While the issue is complex and requires input from many professions and experts, the technology that solves these insidious issues will save lives.

8. Water management

Water – both supply and usage – is a big societal issue and it’s one that presents an incredible opportunity for savvy mine operators and innovators. Reducing a site’s overall water usage through various technologies, including recycling and reuse following sequestration, could be one of the major ways a company could gain a significant competitive advantage.

9. Finding good people

The search for the best professionals remains an ongoing challenge for the mining industry, especially during boom times when skills are in demand. Sophisticated social networking and recruitment tools are likely to assist our industry finding the best people – even if their current role is outside the sector.

10. Social licence to operate

As resources professionals, we all understand the need for social license to operate. In the future, we are likely to be able to use virtual reality to visually inspect reclaimed lands, or roving autonomous drone technology with onboard cameras to do that same activity – thereby making rehabilitation easier and demonstrating to communities our industry’s commitment to successful rehabilitation.

Industry Report

Thought Leadership Series 2020: Celebrating innovative thinking

AusIMM’s Thought Leadership Series 2020 was held as a virtual event with thought-provoking presentations featuring leading global voices exploring the new frontiers for the resources industry.

Showcasing world-class presenters across five separate virtual presentations, the online Thought Leadership Series provided the opportunity to hear from some of the biggest names in our industry addressing the future frontiers in technology, social value, cyber security, investment, space mining, and reviewing the global trends for the mining industry in 2020.

Other technology and innovation recommended reading

Measuring rehabilitation success using remote sensing

AusIMM Bulletin, February 2021

Remote sensing is becoming the tool of choice for mine professionals to measure progressive rehabilitation, plan for future work, and demonstrate success for certification and mine closure.

Space robotics company targets mining exploration in Australia

AusIMM Bulletin, January 2020

A Canadian space robotics company that relocated to South Australia this year has completed the first trial of its autonomous atmospheric satellites ahead of its first commercial launch in 2020.

Tailings dam monitoring solution wins innovation award

AusIMM Bulletin, January 2020

The technology allows mining companies to remotely monitor tailings dams in real time, to support independent analysis from auditors to guide critical decision making.

Innovation in mining

AusIMM Bulletin, April 2015

"To begin with, it is my firm belief that innovation in mining is fundamentally different from innovation in many other industries."

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