Using digital technologies as part of the “smart mining” initiative will result in better information quality and availability and this should ultimately boost productivity and at the same time reduce the environmental footprint being left by the mining industry. In this respect digitisation covers practically every aspect of the value chain as it relates to modern raw materials production, ranging from the exploration of the deposits right through to site reclamation and recommissioning.
While the laboratory analysis of core samples and detrital material has been the traditional method for determining mineral content during both the exploration and the extraction phases, the XRF-based IBERIA tool can now provide real-time analysis data on site. Most of the bulk material produced by the mining industry is transported by belt conveyor and these installations must be properly designed, operated and maintained if they are to achieve maximum efficiency. Here the application of developments such as digital conveyor twin technology can greatly enhance efficiency across the board. The ARTUS project is aimed at developing systems designed for the integrated realisation of a full loading and unloading cycle by a special fleet of autonomous vehicles. One of the challenges arising here is to develop a communications infrastructure for underground environments and to establish the necessary machine to machine connections. With digital technologies often proving unaffordable for small and medium-sized enterprises the PROmining platform demonstrator can now provide these operators with a tool for production data gathering, capacity utilisation analysis and demand scenario development. The Gomer slate mine is an example of how a mid-sized company can continue to perform competitively by introducing innovative products and automation technology. The conversion of the old Konrad iron ore mine into a repository for radioactive materials and the closure of the Asse II waste repository demonstrate how former mining facilities can be put to good use by deploying digital instruments to plan and execute the work. Of course, the topic of digitalisation also plays a role in mine rescue, as the ISSA article in this issue makes clear. The ultimate aim of digitalisation must be to develop an integrative digital portfolio for optimising and integrating the sub-segments of the raw-materials value chain.
Contributions within our post-mining section on the direction of a low-carbon economy and post-mining as an example of economic evolution, as well as an interview with the European CEO of Rio Tinto, the world’s second largest mining company, round off this issue of Mining Report Glückauf.
With my best regards
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas-Peter Sitte
Chief Editor Mining Report Glückauf, Essen