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 COMMUNITY LEGAL RIGHTS IN MINE CLOSURE PLANNING; A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THREE AUSTRALIAN STATES Professor Alex Gardner, University of Western Australia Law School, and Laura Hamblin, formerly research associate at the UWA Law School, 2021 Why does the Mining Act 1978 (WA) not provide secure legal rights for community consultation in relation to mining lease proposals and mine closure plans? Addressing this question presents an important theme for this comparative review of some core features of the regulatory frameworks for mine closure in three Australian States. It also raises important questions for future legal research. Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria have prominent but vastly different, and thus uniquely significant, mining industries. Western Australia’s mining industry has a long history of large and smaller scale mining of a diverse range of minerals by various methods that pose significant mine rehabilitation challenges.[i] Queensland’s mining industry is similarly large and diverse, dominated by export coal production, and planning future minerals development in a decarbonising world.[ii] Victoria has a smaller mining industry with a large historical legacy dominated by a coal mining industry for domestic electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley, which is closing as the State actively transitions to renewable power sources.[iii] These States also have significant differences in the regulation of their mining industries. What all three States do have in common is the significance of their mining industries to both the State economy and the communities who depend on or live near mining operations. Importantly, all three States are confronting large legal and regulatory challenges in managing mine rehabilitation and closure. The key to addressing these challenges is effective mine closure planning: the closure of a mine site has ripple effects that are not merely environmental and economic, but social and cultural too. The initial approval of a mine closure plan occurs before any mining has begun and, with the life cycle of a mine often spanning decades, regulatory bodies are approving hypothetical closure scenarios, potentially subject to vast changes. Regulatory bodies may then seek to enforce closure requirements enshrined in a plan that may wane in relevance as mining operations progress, the updating of which may depend on the miner. Yet remedying the regulatory system so that it creates adaptable but consistently effective mine closure outcomes for affected communities still begins at planning. Although that planning is an iterative process across the life of the mine, it is very important at the initial stage of approval. Recent legislative reforms in all three States are adding to the regulatory rigour and adaptability of mine closure planning, though there are very different legal requirements for community consultation. This article aims to explain and assess the regulatory reforms by undertaking a comparative analysis of mine closure planning across Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria, with a focus on the initial approval stage and how stakeholders and communities are brought into that process. The facilitation of continuous and comprehensive community engagement is critical to ensuring that mine closure planning accounts for environmental, economic, social, cultural and safety outcomes after mine closure, but it has not been possible to consider here the process of ongoing mine closure planning, especially for amending mine closure plans and determining satisfaction of mine closure plans leading to resource tenure relinquishment.[iv] The article begins by considering core concepts of mine closure planning and the regulatory goals that inform it. It then provides a comparative overview of each State’s mine closure planning requirements under the mineral resources, environmental and land use planning laws and draws out some of the different regulatory structures and processes for mine closure within each State. The third step in our analysis compares the ways in which those laws provide for local communities’ participation in mine closure planning, with specific attention to whether the regulatory provisions create legally enforceable rights for effective community engagement. The article concludes with a summary of the key points from the discussion of three themes in our analysis: (i) the importance of clear definitions of core concepts and key goals, (ii) mine closure planning as an essential part of a mining proposal, and (iii) the legal definition of community engagement and consultation rights. Mine closure planning and implementation is necessarily influenced by many other spheres of law including taxation law, investment law, water law, and the rights of traditional owners, to name a few. A potentially directly relevant Commonwealth law is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), which may require environmental impact assessment of a mining proposal and closure plan and lead to approval conditions supplementing State requirements.[v] Whilst acknowledging the importance of these adjacent spheres of the regulatory frameworks for effective mine closure planning, this article does not attempt to address their impact. In particular, the rights of Traditional Custodians are a crucial part of mine closure planning that are only briefly noted here and that would benefit from future research. WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, Major Commodities Review 2022-23”. Qld Government, Department of Resources, Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, June 022. Vic Government, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy. See L Hamblin, A Gardner, Y Haigh, Mapping the Regulatory Framework of Mine Closure, May 2022, CRC TiME, for a broader exploration of the full life cycle of mine closure regulation. In Buzzacott v Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities  FCAFC 111; (2013) 214 FCR 301, , -, referring to the range of approval conditions, which included mine closure. In setting conditions under the EPBC Act, the Commonwealth Minister must consider any relevant conditions under State or Territory law: at  citing Lansen v Minister for Environment and Heritage (2008) 174 FCR 14. 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 Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.