7 of the biggest new technologies in Australian mining right now

The Australian mining industry has seen major innovations and changes over the last couple of years. Some of these innovations include extracting resources from what was originally thought to be unattainable deposits and increasing production output, operational efficiency, and mining profits. The mining industry has been able to do amazing things by taking advantage of new technologies. To keep up with the global demand for resources, Australia must continue to innovate and apply newly learnt approaches to mining. This article will cover some of the most exciting technologies currently in use in Australian mining sites. 

1. Autonomy

Autonomously operated machinery is a fantastic way for mine sites to increase efficiency and safety, as it allows for work to be done without the risk of injury to the worker. Autonomous vehicles do more than just operate without human input – they are able to make decisions through their internal AI systems. Many autonomous vehicles are connected to a grid that allows for communication with other smart mining technologies, such as drones, sensors, and digital mapping devices to make the most cost-effective, efficient and safe decisions they can. 

Some autonomous devices include drones, drilling rigs, hauling vehicles, and even smaller devices such as access control boom gates

2. Communication technology

Mine sites are large with many operations going all at once and, for it to run smoothly, it must have all its cogs working, much like a large machine. When one of these cogs stops working, due to any number of reasons, the rest must adjust accordingly, otherwise, the machine won’t work properly. 

Okay, enough with the machine analogy; essentially, clear communication must be made for all the operations involved. If there is an incident that should delay a blasting operation, information must reach the blasting team to hold their efforts before continuing. Modern technologies allow for a more efficient and faster method of communication all across the mine site. There are powerful portable communication systems which allow for information and power to reach even the most remote mining operation, to ensure everyone is on the same page no matter where the workers are located.

 3. Virtual reality simulations

There is no denying that mines require highly skilled and competent workers, as mine sites can be dangerous and worker competency is a must. A great and innovative method is to use virtual reality simulations as a method of training workers without the risk of injury. This may sound like a gimmick, but virtual reality equipment has come a long way in simulating reality, and are a perfect solution for offering training programs. 

Sometimes the best way to train someone is to let them experience it firsthand, and virtual reality simulations do exactly this. Simulations allow the trainee to experience any number of scenarios that may be encountered in a mine, from explosive handling to machinery operations. Training with virtual reality simulations lowers the risk of accidents from inexperienced workers. 

4. Digitalisation and security

As you have been reading this, you may have come to realise many aspects of mining are breaching into the digital world. As mining becomes more automated, the more data there is to collect and analyse. This digitalisation means there is a grid for all the information and data to be accessed by both AI systems and workers. Data can be accessed almost anywhere. This is a good thing, but the data stored in the cloud is no doubt valuable to the company. Smart mining offers a number of security solutions. The data can be stored on a local cloud-based network, which works as your own kind of private internet, accessible by those only who have the keys to unlock it, and has systems in place to prevent any data breaches.

5. Surveillance and mapping

Mapping and surveillance technologies have come a long way thanks to the usage of drones, as they allow for more accurate readings from places that would otherwise be impossible for a person to reach. They’re great for above ground mapping, as they can quickly scout ahead and get an accurate reading for analysis. Dones are equipped with sensors that can identify geological features, record gas levels on the fly (no pun intended), and offer a 3D render of the data they’ve collected. 

6. Printing replacement parts

A major innovation of our times is the 3D printer. Not only can it print plastic but it can now print metal parts to be used as replacements on equipment. Rather than having to wait months for a specific piece, companies can print whatever it is they need for a quick solution. Not only are they great for printing a replacement part, but for optimising and redesigning parts on equipment that may need to be changed to suit the location.

7. Innovative safety solutions

With the digitisation of almost everything, it’s only natural that worker safety is included too. Miners are now able to be equipped with wearable detection devices that can monitor their health. Such sensors include worker fatigue, air quality sensors, and GPS technologies. These systems allow for real-time reading of each worker’s location, so if there is a mishap, risk management can assess whether everyone has been accounted for, and know exactly where everyone is located on-site. 

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