A non-profit sustainability consulting company for the mining industry
December 10, 2019

Toronto, Canada

Toronto, ON L4G6H8

Sustainable Technology Development

Solving challenges through collaboration and innovation

The mining industry has embraced them theme of digitization as a generational solution to productivity improvement and profitability

Technology innovation has an important part to play in opening new opportunities for mining to improve efficiencies through tracking assets both upstream and downstream.

underground-mining-female

Mining

Technology Landscape

Faster and Easier to Experiment and Innovate

Now, large, medium, and small enterprises can harness powerful capabilities once limited to a select few

Artificial Intelligence Implementations

Companies are undertaking more full AI implementations in machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing

Emerging Technology: Blockchain

Blockchain provides a robust, immutable, and encrypted method of recordkeeping that is easily verifiable

Problem

Mining is categorized as “a linear materials handling exercise in a safety critical bubble.” To exacerbate the complexity of this situation, mining by nature is constantly transient. Other than the military war arena, there is no more difficult environment to work within than mining. Historically, workers returned from their shift only to rationalize a failure to achieve planned objectives.

The underground application of mining as opposed to surface mining offers the greatest challenge to change. There are many more elements within this linear process to interface and to add complexity,  the dynamic exercise is carried out with a fresh back in constant geological movement, in complete darkness, cold, damp and corrosive conditions.

The mining industry is by nature historically conservative as typically reticent to make change. The winning situation for a mining corporation is to find the elusive economically viable ore body. From then on safety and security of investment takes over. There is huge and justifiable concern to making change that can either disrupt or destroy the nature of this asset. It is no wonder that mining struggles to make change with the myriad of obstacles put in the way of success. Society, driven by social media vehicles and evolving culture is however pulling the mining industry ahead in different and positive ways.

Mining is beginning to think out of the box, spending more effort looking outside of their own industry for new solutions Mining industry thought leaders are expressing optimism that parallel industry solutions in big data and IT driven by larger applications and budgets will allow the mining industry to coat tail these new development.   Big data and IT as applied to applications in urban change, climate change, manufacturing automation, medical breakthroughs, space flight, nuclear safety, marine autonomous systems, and other industries using best in class experience will translate to break throughs in mining methods. Also research and development into faster computers, cloud computing, Nano technology, microbes, new materials, and other developments will offer substance to maintain interest in staying the course of real change.

Since the business recovery in 2009 – 2010, there has been a significant and noticeable shift in corporate interest to advancing new innovation themes to improve efficiencies and safety. The most fundamental innovations are related to underground mining methods and evolving the mining process into a rock factory environment. Block and panel caving methods offer ground for novel change that will eliminate drilling and blasting during the construction phase of the mine.

Big data has opened up possibilities to look at process problems with software solutions in a new light in both surface and underground methods. Themes are being advanced with a variety of new digital technology developments such AI, IoT, 3D printing, autonomous systems, electrification of mobile mining process, AR/MR and other novel developments.

The new level of requirement by society is to include sustainability and social responsibility themes in the equation will have a once in a generation opportunity to utilize these new technology developments to solve many of the environmental and social problems that are becoming more socially acute.

Solution

Disruptive Technologies

Technologies include but are not limited to: drilling techniques, IoT, AI, Autonomous systems, 3D printing, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Enterprise Software solutions, mobile process, metallurgy and chemistry.

An assessment of the specific solution can include

  • Review of existing practice either corporate or individual property
  • Review of corporate strategy/plans to advance a technology development program
  • An industry study of available partners and solutions to meet the technology requirements of the application and strategy
  • A road map including time table and ROI to carry out the technology development plan to the application.

Sustainable Innovation Solution

  • Mining and application practice in mining business, mining practice, mining methods, mining process , safety and health, sustainability and social responsibility practice
  • Technology application and includes skills in all levels of IT and digitization technologies in both the mining industry and also other industries that can offer best-in-class solutions towards solving mining industry problems.

Technology Maturity Assessment

Assess the level of technology maturity within the corporate group or individual operating property of developing property. Studies include:

  • A base line of mining /technology practice either corporate or individual existing property
  • A study of the suitability of technology or practice solution to a developing property in conformance to UN Global Compact sustainability guidelines
  • The development of a technology/practice road map to meet the strategic goals of the corporation towards sustainable mining

Non-partisan Third-Party Technology Adjudication

An assessment of technologies and practices results in a corporate decision to purchase an existing solution. Studies can include:

  • Industry search
  • Suitability to application
  • Comparison of feature and benefits
  • Price, ROI, Lifecycle costs
  • Sustainability and Compliance to UN Global Compact Principles

Research & Development

Global Mining Sustainability works as a nonpartisan partner with research institutions, NGO’s consultants and operators to assist and report the suitability towards meeting the expectations of its partners. Solutions can include assessments of sustainability practice, time table, cost of R&D and Return on Investment to allow partners to make better decisions towards advancing strategic programs.

“Mining needs a revolution to avoid retention or employment issues,” said Serres. “Working with stone-age technologies is not sexy for technicians or engineers coming out of school.”

Michel Serres, Vice President at ABB Ltd

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