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Fig. 1. Impressions from the first digital High Performance Mining Conference at the AMT of RWTH Aachen University. // Bild 1. Eindrücke von der erstmals digital veranstalteten High Performance Mining Conference am AMT der RWTH Aachen. Photos/Fotos: RWTH

High Performance Mining Conference 2020: Significant changes in the mining industry

The Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies (AMT) of the RWTH Aachen University, Aachen/Germany, together with the VDMA Mining, organised the 2nd International High Performance Mining Conference from 16th to 19th November 2020. The event took place online for the first time due to the corona pandemic (Figure 1). The 196 participants, who connected via a Whova platform, exchanged information and ideas with each other via an app. The conference was held in English and in 15 international presentations addressed the following topics: Autonomous Mine, Green Mine and People’s Mine. The conference started with a South America Day and it was accompanied by a digital exhibition.

Unlike the previous physical events, the conference appealed to a wider and more international audience thanks to the digital format. Over 1,000 messages were exchanged via the Whova platform, i. e. although the participants were not very active in the virtual meetings, a lively bilateral exchange took place. There were numerous contributions to the topic of discussion concerning the skills engineers need in the future.

Based on the experience, virtual networking is not comparable to a physical conference. The participants received the app very differently and participated at varying levels. The opportunities are there to include a very diverse and international audience, as well as international speakers, and to be able to deliver very high-quality presentations. The challenges are that the entire interpersonal domain cannot really be depicted in the digital format. Overall, the digital format offers completely new opportunities, but challenges too.

The Smart Mining Conference will take place again in November 2021. The format has not currently been clarified. The exact date will be announced in due course. (RWTH/Si.)