Since the beginning of 2020 we have been reeling under the impact of the corona virus/COVID 19 pandemic that first struck China and South Korea and then in February spread to the rest of the world. Public life has, by and large, been seriously restricted and the economy is facing a recession the like of which we have not seen since the Second World War. And of course the mining industry has not been spared from all this. So far around 1,600 mining companies have had to close down their operations either temporarily or permanently, with serious implications for raw materials production, the unemployment figures and the financial health of the businesses concerned, not to mention that of their suppliers. One of the papers featured in this issue therefore focuses on the overseas mining sector in these uncertain economic times. During the month of May we saw the first easing of restrictions and in South Africa and India, e. g., lockdown measures at mines were lifted completely. Nevertheless, we shall have to live with the virus for some time to come, and certainly until we have sufficient capacity to carry out tests, or better still have come up with effective remedies – and ideally have developed a vaccine.
Despite the corona outbreak Mining Report Glückauf has continued to appear on time, due in no small measure to the willingness of our authors to continue to work from home under less than ideal conditions. We in the Mining Report Glückauf team are really grateful for this and hope that subsequent editions will also be published as planned.
The current issue gives centre stage to the theme of “smart mining”. The application of digital technology is expected to bring about an improvement in the quality and availability of information, which will ultimately help to boost productivity and at the same time reduce the environmental impact. After reviewing smart mining as a definition, a concept and a global trend Prof. Elisabeth Clausen, Director of the Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies (AMT) at RWTH Aachen University, talks in an interview about the challenges that will be posed by a “smarter” mining industry. The AMT also organises the Smart Mining Conference every two years, the next such event being due to take place in November 2021.
Other contributions to this edition focus on the innovation culture and technologies required for the implementation of smart mining. Various technology ideas are presented, such as developments within the EU funded SIMS project, the Modelica programming language that is aimed at modelling objects and gathering data above and below ground such as the OPUS particle size analysis system that is designed to control the grinding and classification stages during product processing.
“Smart” ideas and their subsequent developments are therefore set to help make the mining industry more (crisis) resilient.
With my best regards
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas-Peter Sitte
Chief Editor Mining Report Glückauf, Essen