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MMForum – Innovation in Mining Technology: The Need of the Hour

Why the need for innovation???

Today’s mining industry is in grave need innovation in order to provide for the ever-growing needs of man; amidst the challenges it faces. The major challenges it faces are environment safety and efficient methods to extract ore.

I was one attending a talk given by the CEO of The Vedanta Group of companies-Mr. Tom Albanese; he mentioned that once he was reading one of the first books written on mining and he said that there was no much difference in the techniques stated in the book and the one’s we practise today.

Innovation in the mining industry has been characterized by low R&D spending, antagonistic supplier relation- ships, inward industry focus and a continuing trend towards fewer, larger longer-lived components.

Even though the industry may have been able to continue experiencing efficiency and productivity gains in the past, we have seemed to have reached the pinnacle of current technologies. Indeed, bigger trucks and shovels represent an improvement over smaller versions and deliver marginal cost and production benefits but they still depend on grossly wasteful energy conversion and human supervision at every stage.

Innovation in the mining industry has been hampered by a historical collective focus on cost reductions as the primary mechanism for business improvement.

Digitization – a new approach

In my opinion these challenges can be overcome by digitization of the entire mining process; right from the stage of Mineral Exploration to the stage of Reclamation of the Mine.

Digitization is basically the process of converting information into a digital format. Digitizing information makes it easier to preserve, access, and share. The digitization of every information available and the new data discovered by the prospector will help piece together all information of a prospective mining site easily and with negligible error.

Digitization will also help classify the mine data along various parameters and analyse properly.Intuitive software solutions which are provided by many companies should be adopted by mining companies so that they deliver operational efficiencies through every step of the mining and exploration process.

In today’s world the main focus of the mining industry needs be on how the existing advancement in science & technology can be used for the benefit of the company.

The benefits of innovation

Although the initial cost may be high for implementing various innovations in Mining practise; it will have a number of long term benefits as stated below:

  • Increase the amount of production,
  • Which in turn will lead to record profits
  • Also the efficiencies of the operations such as blasting , drilling or opening up a pit significantly increases due to precise calculations – thus reducing capital investment

How to let in change

Change can be brought about in the mining industry by following the suggestions given by Peter Bryant in his paper entitled ‘The Case for Innovation in the Mining Industry’

They as stated below:

  • Design and implement an approach to innovation  Look outside the mining industry to gain a fresh perspective and in- sights from other industries
  • Building the necessary partnerships and alliances

Applying these suggestions is sure to bring many benefits to The Mining Industry, but in order to create a lasting, sustainable ad- vantage; a holistic approach to innovation is required

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