9 June Digital transformation in mining and energy June 9, 2020 By AMPLA Admin Mining, Resources and Energy, Technology Mining, Energy, DigitalTransformation 0 As the global shift to remote work gathers pace, it is more important than ever that the mining and energy sector embraces technology. But a digital transformation offers more than flexible working arrangements. It has the potential to drastically cut down on industrial accidents, optimise operational processes and slash costs. The mining industry has, to date, taken a relatively conservative approach to digital innovation. However, this is changing rapidly. The Rise of IoT in Mining found that from 2018 to 2020 the number of organisations who had fully deployed at least one IoT project had risen from 2% to 65%. From autonomous vehicles to artificial intelligence and machine learning, the mine of the future is safer and more efficient than ever. Here are some of the ways that digital transformation is playing out in the sector. Autonomous vehicles Advances in artificial intelligence have allowed in-vehicle computing systems to become so sophisticated that industrial vehicles can operate autonomously. An autonomous vehicle fleet both cuts down on the potential for workplace injury, and allows operators to work remotely - something Fortescue has pledged in the Pilbara to prevent the spread of a virus such as COVID-19. Electric mines Meanwhile, battery-electric vehicles have improved to the point where battery loaders and trucks can operate underground for more than 400,000 hours with zero exhaust emissions for a decade. This minimises risk to the safety of operations and help companies reach their emissions targets. While the benefits of electrifying mines are well known, the barriers are substantial. A fully electric mine would require radically different design, widespread reselling and huge improvements to current battery technologies. The battery-electric vehicles are an excellent starting point with further scope for transformation. Remote mining operations The ability to operate a mine remotely allows companies to enjoy business continuity even in a crisis. Fortescue is championing its remote mining control centre in Perth, which allows it to cut down on FIFO travel and make it easier to share knowledge and skills between work groups. This is made possible in large part by improvements in software. The mining and energy sector has long been hamstrung by legacy desktop systems using 30-year-old architecture. However, six years ago RPMGlobal and Volvo began work on new enterprise software that offered comprehensive simulation capability for mining. Versions of this software are now used by the world’s three largest OEMs. It can be tailored for miners to simulate their own mines, creating a four-dimensional and highly visual program that is entirely remote. Another digital simulation model under production has the potential to revolutionise the way grinding mills are designed and operated. The process of crushing rocks into smaller fragments is one of the most energy intensive processes in a mine. If it can be made more efficient, there are huge benefits to the operation of the site. Supply chain optimisation An efficient supply chain is vital to any mining or energy operation. Mining stockpiles are rising steadily throughout the world, creating a challenge for companies who must maintain those stockpiles and ensure consistent supply. Simultaneously, delivery pathways must be efficient to minimise operating costs. MRA’s Smart Stockyard Management System uses the latest in automation technology to manage and automate inbound receipt and outbound delivery of mined material. IBM and MineHub Technologies are using blockchain technology to track high-cost minerals, increase transparency from supplier to purchaser and improve operational efficiencies. As yet, digital improvements are focused on discrete parts of the mine site operation. To stay competitive, the mining and energy sector needs to embrace a true digital transformation of the entire operation. This will potentially have flow-on effects to many aspects of the organisation that means legal input and oversight will be critical to mitigate risk and enable efficient execution. Related Articles How foreign investment changes may impact the mining and energy sector In early June 2020, the government announced a review of the foreign investment rules, expanding them to apply to all foreign investors in anything deemed a ‘sensitive national security business’. The changes are scheduled to come into effect on 1 January 2021. There are concerns that this will impact foreign investment in the mining and energy sectors, and in particular the critical minerals space. The states boost the energy and resources sector This year will be remembered for the many challenges that it brought to both individuals and industry. As Australia starts to return to some normality, many states are looking to boost industry, increase jobs and innovate for the future. In this article, we look at various state initiatives designed to boost the energy and resources sector. How COVID-19 could change mining for the better The mining industry was deemed an essential service by the Government, which has enabled it to continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this hasn’t been without its challenges. New processes and procedures were required to address safety and social distancing and issues of supply and worker mobility have impacted how the industry operates. But with adversity comes opportunity and the mining industry has thrived and realised the potential for new improvements amidst the pandemic. Why hydrogen is becoming an important energy source Hydrogen as an energy source continues to grow in popularity. Once confined to industrial processes such as refining crude oil, it is now being recognised as a potential solution to the problems of electricity generation, transportation and storage. Over the next thirty years, global energy demand is predicted to grow by at least 30-40%. At the same time, the share of energy generated from fossil fuels has stayed almost static at 81%. While renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind are getting cheaper, they can only be generated on an intermittent basis. To make them commercially practical to use, they must be combined with high-energy batteries and backed with other energy sources. New innovations in mining What is concerning mining and metals industry executives today? Recent surveys conducted in the mining and metals industry sector indicate that climate change, price volatility and the risk of a global depression are the top concerns for executives. The KMPG Mining Risk Forecast 2020/21 Report nominates climate change and price risks as top-of-mind for executives while a mid-year survey by White & Case found that the fear of a global recession was the most common concern amongst those surveyed. It’s worth noting that the KMPG survey was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the concerns raised have ongoing relevance both now and into the future. Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.