Unsurprisingly, mine management is at the centre of many mine supervisors’ concerns. While we might talk about the benefits of artificial intelligence and automation, some companies do not feel they have the resources to implement them.

While, in this 2018 survey, less than 30% of mine companies claimed to have plans to invest in cloud computing, 3D printing, VR and AR, 40 to 60% of mining companies had plans to invest in mine management software.

We don’t need to have one or the other – and here’s why.

Why mine management?

Mine management is at the centre of mining operations. Yet one mining management system will not sustain operations for long. Soon, mines will be made up of a variety of different streams.

The mining industry is changing as many companies try to keep up with digital transformation. However, inherently, there’s still one primary focus, and often that’s maintaining legacy systems.

We don’t need to maintain legacy systems – instead, we can implement new technology such as AI to transform mine management.

Where’s the problem?

There is one demographic that is largely hesitant to invest in technology such as AI, cloud computing and VR: smaller mining companies.

This is understandable. Most small mining companies do not have the budget to implement innovative software. Instead, they want to invest in things that they know, for sure, will keep their mines functional.

The problem is also that miners, especially smaller ones, want to see an immediate return on investment. They simply cannot afford to invest in something that would be disruptive and take weeks, months or even years to properly implement.

Investing in more nascent technology does not have to mean compromising your mining operations. Gradual introduction of mining technology can revolutionise mining productivity and profits. Australia is pioneering the way in this sector, with an increase of 54% to 73% investment in remote control vehicles between 2016 and 2018.

Automation could change the way your mine functions, as machines do not need rest and can work 24/7. This can save immense costs in both the short and long term.

Investment in cloud computing, automation and AI do not have to be separate from one another. Instead, mine management software can incorporate AI and cloud computing, and perhaps in the future blockchain technology, to improve the way mines run. In the long term, this will be just as affordable for mining companies as traditional mine management software.

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