Hatch Mining Conference 2017 focuses on data and digitisation
Hatch Regional Director, Digital Mining Australasia, Jeanne Els.
Image cerdit: Hatch
A paradigm shift in the mining industry is being driven by the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) and the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), which promotes connectivity, modularity and reuse of sensors, data, networks and platforms. Because of this, big data and analytics will play an increasingly important role in the industry’s future.
Speaking at the Hatch Intelligent Mining Conference 2017, held at the Indaba Hotel in Johannesburg recently, Jeanne Els, regional director: Digital Mining Australasia, said that only between 1% and 5% of the data generated by the mining industry is used for prediction and optimisation. “The bottom line is that there are tremendous opportunities to use data in the mining industry, and much of it is low-hanging fruit,” said Els.
Not all the correct data is being collected, and what is being collected is either not stored at all, or often not stored properly, making it difficult to extract and use for analytics. The lack of available real-time data also makes the actual decision-making process more challenging.
Advances in technology offer the mining industry the opportunity to develop sophisticated models to simulate processes and systems that can then be used for prediction of outcomes and optimisation. “Once this is done in real-time, you can close the loop and introduce automation,” Els added. “The aim is to transform mining from a people-intensive industry to an algorithm-based industry, to get to a place where we have codified processes and real-time information to make real-time decisions – that is really powerful.”
The first major benefits are decreased variability and increased predictability, meaning fewer unplanned events such as unforeseen stoppages, and resulting in better health and safety outcomes and improved productivity and efficiency. According to Els, this also unlocks innovative ways of doing business.
However, the biggest challenge for the mining industry is not technology, but rather being open to collaborative ecosystems and open platforms to drive such innovation. “What is required to apply digitisation in the mining industry, and to really exploit data, is not a small task. A single mining company cannot do it alone. We have to get to a place where we encourage different companies working together on open platforms to develop new applications, and new types of sensors, for example, that will ultimately unlock this kind of value for the entire industry,” Els concluded.