The resources industry continues to invest in IT solutions to support digitisation. Specialist fibre and network solutions provider Vocus has the infrastructure and services to keep these solutions connected.
With rapid advances in technology, the mining sector changes every year.
The need to improve safety and worker wellbeing, enhance productivity, and meet environmental, social, and governance (ESG) demands is helping to drive more connected operations and the adoption of technology.
However, the adoption of technology inherently comes with risk.
Ernst & Young’s (EY) Top 10 Business Risks and Opportunities for mining and metals in 2022, a survey of more than 200 global mining executives, shortlists the most significant risks shaping the industry.
It highlights how various external and societal factors are creating risks and opportunities, driving mining companies to reshape the future of the industry.
New business models were ranked among the top 10 risks in the report, rising from ninth to seventh in the list, with EY pointing to digital integration as an integral opportunity for businesses to innovate and differentiate
EY global mining and metals leader Paul Mitchell says the study examines the push to develop and deploy new technology for a broader purpose.
“As stakeholders continue to hold miners accountable for environmental and social practices, purpose, long-term value and sustainability are no longer add-ons to business as usual – they are themselves business as usual,” Mitchell says.
“In such an uncertain and shifting environment, we are likely to see greater use of data science, scenario planning and data modelling to guide more intelligent decisions and create differentiation.”
Taking advantage of rapidly emerging and evolving technologies can seem like an overwhelming task for the mining sector. However, this shift has created a myriad of opportunities that were previously unimaginable.
Specialist fibre and network solutions provider Vocus is expanding on its current infrastructure, which is creating increased demand for its services.
Among the services offered by Vocus is the capabilities available through its hybrid cloud technology.
Hybrid cloud promises a range of benefits, from improved business resilience and disaster recovery, to increased agility, better surge management, lower costs and more capability to support business applications.
Vocus national lead for resources, mining and utilities Simon Head says implementing cloud technology properly is no easy feat.
“It requires careful planning, ongoing consideration and highly sophisticated hybrid cloud architectures,” Head says.
“Organisations who fail to build strategies focussed on business outcomes may find that new technologies cause more problems than they fix.”
Significant advancements in space technology have made low-latency connectivity possible within and between urban, regional and even remote environments.
Head says satellite technology, for example, makes use of a range of orbits for telecommunications, satellite imaging, aviation and navigation purposes.
“These include geostationary orbit (GEO), low earth orbit (LEO), medium earth orbit (MEO), polar orbit, sun-synchronous orbit (SSO), transfer orbit and geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), and Lagrange points (L-points),” Head says. “Of particular interest among these are LEO satellites, which are currently helping to bridge connectivity gaps right across the country, enabling Australians to work, play, and connect further and faster.”
Vocus’ infrastructure has the potential to benefit remote communities around Australia, where many mine sites are in operation.
Head says when a fibre asset is developed, the technology can be used to provide connectivity off that fibre backhaul to regional and remote communities easily and affordably.
“Our infrastructure is also servicing backhaul for the space industry through new ground station technology in the exciting LEO satellite arena,” he says.
“We are currently seeing the benefits of satellite connectivity to remote locations where fibre still doesn’t reach. As the demands for bandwidth continue to increase, satellite technology is evolving to bring higher speeds with a real reduction in latency.”
Rather than relying on fixed cables, LEO technology will provide an internet connection anywhere the sky is visible. This technology has the capability to be of immense value to mining companies.
Mine sites have commonly been employing edge computing systems to enable more remote operational capabilities.
Edge computing is conducted on site to deliver enough processing power to run remotely across a mining operation.
The need for edge computing has increased throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic with more companies relying on remote access to keep operations functioning.
However, this can lead to increased costs. Vocus’ satellite internet services can allow companies to minimise network build costs, while at the same time maximising efficiencies of cloud and edge technologies.
Vocus continues to connect Australia’s mining industry, most recently with the $500 million Darwin-Jakarta-Singapore cable (DJSC) to enhance the Pilbara mining region.
“This key fibre infrastructure, along with the development of LEO satellites, means Australia’s mining sector will continue to advance as the technology evolves,” Head concludes.