o3 BLOG | Trends

7 Technology Trends that Are Shaping the Mining Industry

August 3, 2021

O3 Mining

Precious metals have seen a steady rise in value over the last decade, as well as consistent demand. The global pandemic caused a surge in gold prices last year, and experts predict a strong uptick towards the end of the year. Gold remains a coveted commodity and safe haven for investors everywhere. While many countries are still experiencing a decline in their currencies, the margins of gold miners within those countries continue to grow. Advancements in technological innovation play a fundamental role in the success and growth of the mining sector. As the world grapples with the effects of climate change on top of recovering from a pandemic, the need to create a low-carbon sustainable economy has never been greater. To sustain long-term success, players in the mining sector must adopt cutting-edge technology to streamline their processes, improve the safety of workers, minimize their impact on the environment, and ensure mutual benefit for the communities where they are located. Companies across all sectors continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the mining industry was no exception. Due to strict lockdown measures, many mining companies were required to restrict access to their sites and pivot to find innovative solutions during these unprecedented times. As innovation in the mining industry continues to evolve, the following 7 technology trends are shaping the future of mining.

  • Mining Automation

While some mines operated with minimal staff, there was a clear need to increase productivity while protecting the safety of their workers. With rising costs and a shortage of human labour, many players in the mining space are turning to automation as a solution. The adoption of AI, robotics, and automation paves the way for enhanced productivity and a stronger market. Automated machine processes are more efficient and consistent, making data collection easier. Dedicated data management software contributes to more precise data comparison, analysis and comprehensive reporting. Mining software is used in everything from tracking and preventing downtime, cost estimation, and QA checks. As autonomous machines and robotics become more commonplace, mining companies can expect improved safety measures for workers and decreased personnel costs. The long-term goal is to achieve almost full automation requiring only human oversight. However, relationships with surrounding communities may suffer, as mines provide long-term work for many labourers.

  • Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence allow mining companies to process large amounts of data and derive insights to streamline workflow and significantly reduce downtime and errors. Mining companies are benefiting from AI in the exploration process by using it to identify targets and assist in making accurate predictions on known mineralization.

  • Augmented and Virtual Reality

To minimize the number of potential hazards, many mining companies are introducing VR simulators. Virtual and augmented reality simulators provide training in areas such as blasting without putting workers at risk. Simulated mining environments allow trainees to practice safety protocols and provide learning opportunities that can improve operations. Mining can be a hazardous occupation — however, VR can significantly decrease the risks associated with it.

  • Drones and Smart Sensors

While we often associate drones as aerial vehicles above ground, their use is becoming more common in underground operations. Drones can act as mine scouts to search caves that might be dangerous or difficult for humans to access. Drones can collect data about geological conditions, gas levels, and capture high-quality visuals. Drones can safely navigate excavation sites that are at risk of collapsing, potentially saving many lives in the process.

  • Electric vehicles and machines

Electric vehicles are still relatively new and can be costly. However, because they don’t require fuel, operation costs can be lower over the long term. Electric fleets create safer working conditions over diesel as harmful gases such as carbon monoxide can be detrimental to teams working underground. Further, electric vehicles have little to no emissions at a time when ESG (Environmental Social Governance) is at the forefront.

  • Innovations in Communication Methods

One significant barrier that mining companies experienced during the pandemic surrounded communications. Digitization and advancements in data analytics translate into better visualizations and insights, improving operational communications, leading to growth. Enhanced connectivity between machines has given technicians a better overview of work processes and identifying and solving problems more efficiently.

  • Laboratory Testing

Junior mining companies require a range of laboratory tests, especially during their exploration phase. Mining laboratories have sophisticated systems and processes to manage everything from chemical analysis information to sample preparation. Advanced automation within mining laboratories contributes to improved productivity and efficiency.

Advancements in mining technology create safer processes for workers in a traditionally hazardous occupation. Mining and technology sectors rely on each other, and as we continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, companies must adopt safer and more innovative ways to operate. Innovation thrives in times of crisis, and that sentiment is evident in the mining industry. As the precious metals and commodity markets continue to perform, so do advancements in technology. The mining industry is one of the oldest industries and also one of the most resilient. We can expect mining practices to continue to evolve alongside technological advancements, paving the way for a promising future for all.

O3 Mining is a Canadian Junior Mining company that delivers superior returns to its shareholders and long-term benefits to its stakeholders. To learn more about our ongoing projects and investment opportunities, book an appointment with our executive team today.

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