The future of mining is now

Meryl Malcomess.jpg

Mining has always been assumed a male dominated domain. A throwback perhaps from early prospecting times, where wives were left at home while husbands went to seek their fortunes. This is both outdated and misconceived.

Today’s industry offers excellent opportunities for women in a sustainability, community and equal opportunity focused sector. The engineering field too has become more female orientated, as have many related support industries, like ICT for example.

Women must realise that now the only barriers to entry exist solely in their minds.

As the demand for commodities increases globally, market pressure is driving mines to recover maximum tonnage and profit through downstream operations, requiring rethinking supply chain effectiveness. Mining houses are becoming masters of supply chain management - something very close to the mining heart.

My own experience working in the trucking and air freight industries has helped me appreciate the importance of well synchronised supply and distribution. In any one month a mine can have over five hundred trucks arriving or leaving, requiring adept systems and suppliers which can support such a mission critical function.

Mines are becoming technology repositories, sweating technology wherever possible to maximise efficiencies. From ERP software and scenario planning tools, to geological analysis and modelling programmes. Mobility is also adding further efficiencies. Our own mobile ERP product, Syspro Espresso, is in line with this trend, allowing for greater, quicker and easier communications than ever before.

It’s now all about faster communication and easier maintenance. Solutions can be monitored by the original suppliers through these advanced systems. Everyone is linked, so there’s more than just one party checking the ongoing activity, be it an original supplier, a third party, or an internal resource. This essentially means that mines can be, and in some cases already are, running remotely.

So what does the future hold? Such innovations like driverless trucks, trains and drills are already being used in mines around the world, and will continue to develop. Communication technology is the crucial wiring that supports these autonomous vehicles, promising to produce mines vastly different to what we know today, and allowing companies to move toward full remote automation.

When this happens, the flow of information we be as important, if not more so, than the flow of ore. If the information stops, so will the mine.

Technology is also helping mining become greener and creating an entire new spinoff industry in the process. New breakthrough sciences and cost reductions hold promise for making mining more profitable, safer and cleaner. Innovations aimed at reducing toxicity and the use of power and water, are at the forefront of this burgeoning new industry, helping clean up after hundreds of years of inefficiencies and waste.

For those that may think mining to be an outdated, aging industry, stick around. Things are only just getting interesting.

                                                             Meryl Malcomess, marketing director at Syspro

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This edition

Issue 42