As you already know, humans have been mining different resources – such as gold, silver, chalk, various ores, and so on – for centuries and it’s safe to say that as soon as we discovered these deposits, we’ve been dependent on them. Nowadays, mining looks completely different than it did in the past thanks to all the technological innovations and advancements.
With each innovation in the industry, mining processes have become better, safer, more affordable, and efficient, and because of this, you might want to learn more about the emerging trends happening in the industry. Luckily for all individuals that are wondering the same thing, here is a list of the top six emerging trends in underground mining technology:
1. Underground Drones For Mapping
The first tech that we’ll be discussing are drones, more specifically, underground drones that can help with mapping, as well as other processes such as collecting data and searching different areas & caves. They’re incredibly efficient in measuring and recording gas levels, they can identify different geographical features, and they can also record different areas, thus, there is no longer a need to see humans underground – which can be quite dangerous as well.
When different mining organizations send their drones underground, they can keep their employees safe from any hazards, especially in an underground that is at risk of collapsing. Yes, the tech has been around for quite some time now, however, with all the advancements, innovations, and features added to the underground drones used in this industry, they’re now present at all excavation locations and sites.
2. Self-Driving Machinery & Vehicles
Back in 2020, there was nothing more popular in the mining industry than self-driving machinery and vehicles. Whether we’re talking about trains or cars, the mining industry has benefited quite a lot from autonomous vehicles. For example, companies can now purchase robots that can gather and analyze different ore samples, thus, humans won’t need to go underground to collect this information. It’s worth mentioning that autonomous vehicles are the first step to creating ‘intelligent’ excavation sites.
3. Optimization of Blasts
Although the entire industry changed in the last decade, it still heavily depends on explosives. Because of this, a wide range of organizations relies on different technologies in order to guarantee a safe and successful blast. For instance, by utilizing projected blast models and tracking data, organizations can now create blasting plans, which is something that can help them make the entire blasting process safer and more reliable.
Additionally, mining is one of the most dangerous and daunting jobs out there, mostly because it revolves around breaking different surfaces apart. Although blast sites haven’t been completely automated yet, it’s slowly – but surely – moving in that direction. Since the blasting is complex, experienced and skilled employees still need to wire everything, however, electronic detonators have surely made things easier and safer.
4. VR is Here to Stay
Virtual reality or as it’s more commonly referred to as “VR” is, perhaps, one of the best technologies mining companies can implement within their organizations. Currently, some companies use data collected by their drones for mapping various areas, and by doing so, employees can use a VR set for seeing the area, but more importantly, they can use it for determining what they’ll have to do – for instance, where a detonation needs to happen.
But, this isn’t the only thing virtual reality can help with – it can also be used for training employees! By using it, miners can now be trained on various processes such as wiring explosives without ever having to step foot in the mining area. Since a virtual mine can be created, individuals can practice how to place, set, and detonate bombs from a safe distance and since their mistakes will be highlighted, they can always revisit them and correct their mistakes.
5. Emerging IoT Hubs
Another tech that you should seriously be looking at if you work in the mining industry is an IoT hub. Platforms such as the one offered by Newtrax can allow you to do a wide range of things by providing you with devices that can monitor the environment of a site, as well as the machines and people located there. Since it can monitor your whole fleet, you’ll be capable of ensuring safety in an underground mining environment.
But, besides the aforementioned things, such platforms can help you with something else as well – since it’ll connect all your databases and information in real-time, you’ll be able to monitor all the processes happening below ground, which means that you’ll also be able to make better decision revolving around your team, machinery, and mining site. Keep in mind, these hubs need to be made according to the industry standards to guarantee safety and efficiency.
6. Improved Programs & Hardware
Last on our list of emerging trends, but equally as important as everything else we’ve mentioned are improved mining programs and hardware. Since mines are becoming more automated, it’s also simpler to collect various data, which can include things such as the conditions of the mining site, inventory, and more importantly, how often the machinery is being used, as well as how often it has been maintained.
In the last several years, more data is being collected, and by analyzing and properly monitoring it, organizations can now improve the efficiency of their operations, and, of course, they can keep their employees safer – something that was incredibly complex and daunting in the past. Keep in mind, there is a wide range of mining programs and hardware available on the market, so, before opting for a specific option, do some digging, compare everything, and then determine which one is suitable for your firm.
Every year, different technological innovations and improvements help create a safer working environment in the mining industry. The innovations we’ve mentioned above won’t only keep workers safe, but they can increase the overall efficiency of an organization, meaning that they might end up being more productive.
If you’re working and/or managing a mining site, you really shouldn’t spend any more of your time reading articles similar to this one. Instead, you should go through our list above one more time, determine which innovations and technologies might suit your needs, and then start implementing them within your organization!