Fluctuating raw-material prices, high capital investments, long development times, the unique character of each area of deposits and the resulting uncertainty of the geological information they provide – these have always represented challenges for the mining industry. The depletion of older deposits means having to develop new sources of supply in difficult geological conditions, at deeper levels and in remote areas that are climatically and geographically difficult to access. Add to this the evolving manpower requirements and a growing demand for technical skills of the workforce. The future will raise questions both as regards raw material needs and, also to that effect, the nature of the outside influences that are set to affect the mining sector.
In this respect the latest edition of Mining Report Glückauf will be examining future possibilities for improving mine productivity and efficiency, this under the heading of “High Performance Mining”. However, the ongoing development of techniques and technologies in the mining industry is just one aspect of this general theme. In fact, High Performance Mining also looks further afield to include people and the environment and examines the way in which both these interact with technology. The aim here is to provide mining companies with a clear means of orientation as to how they can prepare themselves for the future and react effectively to external influences.
After outlining some of the concepts involved the interview with George Hemingway from the growth strategy consultancy Stratalis looks more closely at the factors that determine the future readiness of today’s mining companies. One example of how High Performance Mining works in practice is provided by the Aitik open-pit copper mine in Sweden – quite simply the most efficient mine in the world.
One of the key technical factors as far as high performance mining is concerned is digitisation. This technology offers considerable advantages when it comes to improving workplace safety, efficiency and productivity in the mining industry. The industrial internet of things facilitates the analysis of real-time data and makes recommendations for both mine-based and non mine-based users. The Epiroc-developed Control Tower allows operators to explore and steer remotely-controlled and automated machines of the kind that are in service all over the world. At the end of 2018 the World Bank published a special report entitled “Managing Coal Mine Closure: Achieving a just Transition for All”. Its aim is to help state governments and regions that are facing mine closures, whether triggered by climate protection measures or some other factor, to manage this process using “social engineering” initiatives that are designed to prevent the economic distress and social conflict that can result from such events. And this too is another aspect of High Performance Mining.
The technical papers in this edition include a look back at the German lignite mining industry in 2018.
With my best regards
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas-Peter Sitte
Chief Editor Mining Report Glückauf, Essen