31 July New innovations in mining July 31, 2021 By AMPLA Admin Environment, Mining, Technology 0 New innovations in mining Innovation has long been a hallmark of the mining industry, and in recent months we’ve seen some significant research come to market. Productivity improvements Autonomous vehicles are not new to mining, but there are still several new uses that continue to evolve. In Western Australia, Rio Tinto has been the first in the world to deploy autonomous water trucks at the Gudai-Darri iron ore mine. The trucks automatically detect dry conditions that need to be watered and refill themselves. Rio Tinto believes that this will enable them to improve productivity at the site in their water activities while also reducing water usage. Approximately 53% of organisations are turning to electrification to reduce costs according to State of Play’s Electrification Report 2021. However, the cost benefits need to be weighed against the cost of transitioning to a new energy source, which is something most companies considering the move are grappling with. One of the other benefits of electrification are environmental, thanks to a likely reduction in carbon and diesel particulate emissions meaning this opportunity could see more mines achieving zero carbon emissions. Environmental developments With environmental impact now high on the agenda for most governments and companies, finding new ways to manage, reduce and rehabilitate environmental damage are important. Research in the US has found ways to measure the restoration of river systems impacted by mining. The study reviewed not only the river itself but also the plant species, animals and insects that relied on it. The research found that the river systems took an average of 10.25 years to recover once mining was completed, regardless of the level of pollution found initially. This is positive news and gives hope of reversing some of the negative impacts of mining in the future. Environmental damage through extraction can also be significant. Researchers at Curtin University in Western Australia have found a way to extract invisible gold trapped in pyrite that is environmentally friendly. With the discovery of new gold deposits declining, being able to extract invisible or ‘fool’s’ gold is a welcome discovery. The research found that the gold can be hosted in nanoscale crystal defects, whereas previously it was believed to be found only as nanoparticles or a pyrite-gold alloy. The gold is hosted in nanoscale defects called dislocations, so small that they require a technique called atom probe tomography to see them. To extract it they steered away from pressure techniques that require a significant amount of energy and found that selective leaching was effective. This involves using a fluid to dissolve the gold from the pyrite without impacting the pyrite itself. Research is also being undertaken in France on how gold can be recovered effectively by examining how gold reacts with minerals that contain iron and arsenic to better understand the chemical reactions that occur in gold processing. The research should assist in being able to identify and improve exploration and extraction processes, potentially reducing both risk to workers and environmental damage. Improvements in governance Consumers are increasingly demanding more information about the origin of the products that they use. While this has been common in areas such as food production, it is also likely to become more prevalent in mining. Technology developed by Australian company, Source Certain International, and Cornish Lithium will allow the origin of lithium within a battery to be identified down to a specific mine site. This goes a long way to creating a transparent supply chain for lithium. These developments are just a few examples of how innovative research and technology has the potential to transform the mining industry in the near future. Related Articles Digital transformation in mining and energy 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. 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. 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. The Jurisdiction of Wardens under the Mining Act 1978 (WA) ARELJ Article- Till Death Do Us Part: The undue impact of Freeth on Western Australia's Mining Tenement Forfeiture System 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. Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.