The mining industry in Australia is a prominent contributor to the country’s economy. It has generated gross value additions in the hundreds of billions of Australian dollars over the course of the last decade alone.
Furthermore, Australia is the world’s largest producer of lithium and one of the world’s top five producers of gold, nickel, lead, iron, ore, and zinc.
Therefore, the appropriate mining equipment must be employed in the country.
Technology in the mining industry
Increased technological innovation, including automation, digitisation, and more, is having a significant impact on the mining industry.
Technology can have a variety of effects on mining operations, including improvements in safety and production and environmental protection and other considerations.
The mining industry can benefit from incorporating technological innovation into its operations, resulting in lower costs, increased production, and improved worker safety.
Importance of using innovative mining technologies
For Australia to reap the possible economic benefits from its mining industry, it must continue to employ cutting-edge mining technologies.
Innovation increases the likelihood of adapting to changes and identifying new opportunities. This also plays a massive role in the success of an industry.
Innovation is crucial in the mining industry as a means of enhancing process efficiency and lowering costs, but also to address growing social and environmental concerns. Additionally, new technological and economic advances influence which metals are in most demand, shaping the sector.
Australia’s advanced mining technology
The mining industry has been significantly growing and continues to thrive through the years. Between 2016 and 2021, the mining industry in Australia has risen by an average of 8.1% every year. Here are some technology trends recently observed in the sector:
The automation of mining operations is one of the most significant advancements in the industry. In mining automation, Australia is widely regarded as a world leader, having developed technology that allows resource companies to operate more securely and efficiently in remote and hostile environments. Overall, automated mining is the process of removing human labour from the mining process entirely.
The utilisation of automated mining trucks and rigs eliminates the requirement for direct exposure of personnel to minerals. It enables mines to operate around the clock and maximise their input use.
Automation can take many forms, with possible benefits extending beyond increased productivity and reducing environmental impact. This includes:
- Autonomous trucks
- Automated site monitoring
- Autonomous long-distance trains
- Automated drilling and tunnel-boring systems
- Automated ventilation systems at underground mining sites
Mining and drilling operations are frequently located in rural places with limited access to electricity due to a lack of existing infrastructure. Fossil fuel developers may find that renewable energy technology might assist them in powering their mining and drilling activities.
Renewable energy mitigates pollution. It also ensures that new technologies in the mining industry operate responsibly.
The mining industry’s most popular use of renewable energy include the following:
- Fuel cell energy
- Hydrogen energy
- Geothermal energy
The concept of electrifying mining equipment is not new. The electrification of mining operations is quickly emerging as a critical problem for the resources sector as it continues to grow in importance. The primary goal is to assist in transforming the resource sectors to a future based on electric and renewable energy mining. Large trucks and mining rigs are commonly used in mining operations connected to energy grids, resulting in significant emissions.
Digital technologies have a wide range of applications in the mining industry, and they assist in the delivery of productivity increases and the streamlining of the value chain. It refers to the use of computerised or digital devices or systems and the usage of digitally stored information. Because of this, mining businesses now have access to far more data than they ever have previously because of the usage of digital sensors in their operations.
Examples of innovative mining technologies in Australia
Here are some of the most recent technological breakthroughs in the mining industry:
Driverless haul trucks
Trucks that can be operated without a driver are known as driverless trucks, and they are used in specific situations. These vehicles come fitted with a GPS, an obstacle detection system, and vehicle controllers for added convenience. Australia has a technological advantage in this field, operating 400 of the world’s 500 driverless haul trucks in surface mines. Within the next few years, the number of running driverless haul trucks is likely to multiply.
3D laser scanning
This is a technology that allows you to create high-precision 3D representations of real-world items using a laser scanner. It can map the shape, position, and location of objects with exceptional precision. It allows mining corporations to plan and prepare for future exploration and drilling efforts with pinpoint accuracy.
The mass of material carried on a conveyor belt is determined using a belt weigher. Belt weighers are installed at strategic locations along the conveyor belt system to provide continuous feedback on the mass of moving material. Moreover, conveyor belt scales are used to screen and quantify materials throughout the extraction, relocation, primary and secondary crushing, processing, and storage processes.
Production drills are ideal for tunnelling and cavern excavation because they allow rapid and accurate drilling. They can also ensure that holes are large enough to serve as a portal for miners to enter if necessary to work underground. Drilling and blasting are used to create a well-fragmented loose rock that can be excavated more efficiently with excavation machinery. Furthermore, production drills will continue to improve in strength and capability in the underground mining sector.