Move Over, Humans… Robots are Taking Over Mining Activities!

automation in mining

The rising global demand for energy has sparked several debates among businesses and activists around the world. Although the conflicts and confrontations may go on, the common ground that needs to be established is that there should be lesser harm to the environment. At the same time, the increasing population keeps adding to the demand for these resources. With mining constituting over half of the overall energy harnessing methods, the subject of oil and coal mining has gathered attention from around the world.

The Million Dollar Question: Despite So Many Advances, why are Death Rates Going Up?

We’re all well aware of the risks that mining activities bring to humans. Accidental as well as consequential risks are a few of the factors that mining workers need to face at all phases during this activity. Accidental risks are more talked about; surface cracks collapses, vibrations, and electrical shorts among the leading causes for accidents. Consequential risks involve UV exposure, dust inhalation, thermal stress, and other chemical hazards. As mining activities continue to rise, we have been constantly working on reducing the risks associated with it, in a bid to ensuring efficient activities. Irrespective of the type of risks, mining accounts for over 15,000 deaths annually. Less examination and even lesser precautions are driving these figures. Having said that, the death rates look to be turned on their head, since the turn of the 21st century and technology has certainly emerged as a pivoting factor.

Safe Mining Activities: Technology Delivers Yet Again; This Time, Through Automation in Mining

In the past two decades, technology has played a vital role in the developments in mining activities. With regard to the increasing fatality as well as injury rates, several companies are focused on introducing advanced techniques through the integration of automated concepts. Unsurprisingly, the use of automated machines has brought down the accidental rates across the world. 

The impact of automation in mining can be demonstrated through a few of the recent industry developments that have been listed below:

  • The Robominers Project

The European Union (EU)-funded ‘Robominers’ is a project that was initiated to facilitate EU access to mineral raw materials. Efforts are being taken for the creation of a controlled mining ecosystem, that will also derive ideas from other sectors. As the name suggests, this will be a robot-centric project and will be used to access areas that are smaller and difficult to access for humans. Moreover, this project will be developed with a design based on bio-inspired concepts. The project was established with the primary aim of implementing robotic systems in upstreaming as well as down-streaming raw material processes and in doing so, address future challenges. 

  • ‘Syama’: World’s First Automated Mine

The use of automated concepts has helped produce a few exceptional products in the field of mining. From human labor to self-driving trucks, mining operations have come a long way. Concepts such as ore-detection and seismic monitoring have helped reduce the total time required to complete these activities as well as bring down the accidental rates. In the wake of robotic mining, Resolute Mining, a world leader in mining activities, initiated ‘Syama’, a fully automated mine. Syama is said to generate around 300,000 ounces of gold every year. Through collaborations with tech-giant ‘Sandvik’, the company is undertaking the implementation of autonomous equipment and digital solutions. With a massive production capacity, Syama will stand firm as one of the largest automated mining ores in the world. 

  • Rio Tinto Deploys 24-hour Automated Mining Machines

The growing demand for energy resources has created a subsequent need for faster and large-scale mining activities. With the aim of capitalizing on the massive energy demand, several companies are focused on deploying automated systems. The use of embedded systems and robotics will help produce better yield and match optimum efficacies. Accounting to this, Rio Tinto, a mining giant, has deployed several automated robots in mining ores across four different mines in Australia’s Mars-red northwest corner. The company has over 70 active robots that carry out mining activities for 24 hours a day. 

  • NASA’s Controversial ‘Lunar’ Mining 

Several automated discoveries have graced the mining industries in recent. Technological advancements have brought these discoveries to the fore and almost every day, we can expect newer robotic products, each of which possesses improved operational capabilities. But no one could have remotely predicted NASA’s ‘Lunar’ mining proposition. It’s been a decade since NASA first proposed that it plans to conduct mining activities on the moon. Many were quick to ridicule this; several claiming this was highly impossible ever for an organization like NASA. But with recent proceedings and project undertakings, the theory can possess the potential to become practical within the next five years. As expected, it has since, sparked heated debates. Nonetheless, it is clear that mining on the moon would not have been possible without automation.

Automation in Mining and Human Safety May Come at the Cost of Energy Wastage

Although the benefits of automation in mining are plenty, it does come at the risk of excess mining. Many analysts have suggested that although automation can help bring down the fatality rates in mining activities, it may otherwise be harmful to the Earth in the longer run. The demand for energy doesn’t look to reduce anytime soon. But the use of automated concepts might bring about a sense of lethargy among humans. In all fairness, the technological advancements are commendable but with excess energy use and mining through robots and driverless equipment, we might just be adding to the depletion of resources. Given the current state of environmental pollution, energy consumption, and global warming, it looks like we would be better off with limited mining options at our disposal. Nevertheless, through automation, we have been able to experience things that we couldn’t even dream of. Not only this, but automation has also created more jobs than it has taken and altogether, it has contributed to a better quality of life. Based on growing applications of automation and massive investment in the development of automation-driven mining activities, we are certain to witness even more advances in the coming years.

Source: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/mining-automation-market-101348

Author’s Bio:

Tanay Bhalla is a part of the very talented content team at Fortune Business Insightsâ„¢. He is a highly-driven writer with extensive experience in market research. Tanay specializes in blogs, articles and press releases. His approach to writing is simple, intended to ensure a seamless read.

LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/tanay-bhalla

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