We can thank mining for many everyday products we use: batteries, computer keyboards, plastics, and so much more. It’s a huge industry that only keeps on expanding as time passes.
One of the reasons why it’s been able to grow at such rapid speeds (besides the ever-growing demand for materials extracted in mines) is the development of relevant technologies used in this industry.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the ways technology improves and changes underground mining processes and provides us with many day-to-day products we can’t imagine our lives without.
So, without any further ado, let’s get right into it.
1. Automating tasks
Remotely controlled mining vehicles have revolutionized this industry in more ways than one. They allow miners to avoid hazardous environments and inspect potentially dangerous areas under the ground. This doesn’t only speed up the mining process, but it also cuts costs and prevents risks to human life.
These vehicles have been around since the early 2010s, and the technology only seems to be advancing. The end goal is to create machinery that requires little to no human control, which seems to be entirely possible nowadays, especially considering the advancements in robotics.
Either way, autonomous mining vehicles are an important part of mining today – without this technology, the entire process would be much slower, riskier, and costlier.
2. Maintenance optimization.
A relative novelty in the world of mining, Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions have the potential to optimize maintenance protocols in underground mines around the globe. Such solutions can automate maintenance scheduling by predicting failures and setting optimal times to conduct inspections. This is much cheaper than having a set maintenance schedule on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
Now, many miners have their doubts when it comes to intelligent software solutions, as these are relatively new to the industry. However, as these programs are designed and developed specifically for mining, they’re able to operate with utmost precision. They’re much more effective than traditional scheduling methods, which helps companies mitigate risks, lower their costs, and improve the safety of their workforce.
We believe this technology is going to become an even bigger part of mining in the future. It’s advancing at extreme speeds, so it’s probably going to be used in other parts of mining very soon.
3. Creating digital simulations.
The ability to digitalize underground mines is one of the most important technologies in the industry today. Besides AI, these devices use machine-learning and other IoT (Internet of Things) tools to create digital twins of the mining area in question.
These „twins“ allow miners to better allocate their assets and create safer environments for everyone involved. It’s a great way to boost productivity and optimize safety in an underground mine. The data retrieved from these solutions can provide managers with information that can optimize and accelerate underground mining processes.
Either way, digital simulations or mine „twins“ are an important technology that plays a big role in mining operations all around the globe.
4. Improving safety through GPS tracking.
GPS trackers and sensors are used in mining as an important safety precaution. The operating team being unable to locate their workers during an emergency could lead to catastrophic consequences.
As noted at Newtrax, one of the crucial uses of GPS tracking and monitoring in underground mining operations is during evacuation situations. The ability to locate and communicate with the personnel at all times is of the utmost importance – this technology has the potential to save lives and prevent life-threatening injuries.
The GPS devices used in underground mining are incredibly precise and usually completely error-free. They help ensure the safety of the workers, which empowers them and motivates them to work harder. As we’ve already mentioned, the technology behind these trackers is improving by the day – it can be used in many different ways nowadays.
5. Shorter turnaround times due to the advancements in equipment and machinery.
Underground mining machinery is constantly evolving. The things our machines are capable of doing today couldn’t even be imagined just a few decades ago. Underground mining drills, dozers, graders, and even shovels are all different compared to what they’ve been just a couple of years back.
These improved machines have accelerated many underground mining processes that would otherwise take incredible amounts of time and resources to be completed.
The same goes for mining safety equipment. As we’ve already mentioned before, new tech such as GPS tracking and AI allows operations management to keep their workers safe while they’re working under the ground.
As you can see, safety is one of the biggest concerns of this industry. Since modern machinery is increasingly automated, these issues seem to be slowly resolving – we’re excited to see what the future holds for underground mining equipment and machinery.
6. Reducing operating costs.
Since technology allows for maintenance optimization, improved personnel safety, and shorter turnaround times, it suffices to say that it also reduces the operating costs of underground mining projects.
As we’ve already mentioned before, the demand for materials recovered by mining is on the rise. So, mining companies need to find ways to increase production, while keeping their costs low as possible in order not to lose their profits. Technology seems to be the perfect catalyst for this, and this doesn’t seem likely to change very soon.
Therefore, we can expect the development of many new technologies that will aid underground mining processes by cutting the operating costs as much as possible. Now, of course, this has other positive effects as well, especially when it comes to creating safer environments for people working in mines – it’s all positively correlated.
The bottom line
All in all, technology improves underground mining processes in many different ways. In this article, we’ve discussed this topic in detail to help you understand the impact of new technologies on the mining industry.
With that being said, we hope you’ve found it to be useful and we wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.