Top three technology trends set to disrupt mining

Technology is shaping the mines of tomorrow, with AspenTech, Dassault Systemès and Epiroc at the cutting-edge of the Mining, Engineering, Technology and Services (METS) sector.

AspenTech, an industrial optimisation software provider, exploits AI and machine learning to deliver insights to enhance operational decision-making and accelerate digital transformation; Dassault Systemès, a 3D design and engineering software provider, is creating digital ecosystems which place you at the mine site; and mining equipment manufacturer Epiroc, is pioneering a suite of automotive and telematics solutions for exploration, surface and underground environments.

AspenTech, Dassault Systemès and Epiroc are part of a significant METS delegation at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in 2022. Austmine chief executive officer Christine Gibbs Stewart, a founding partner of IMARC, said that the trio of METS pioneers are also members of Austmine.

“Digital technologies have transformed the mining industry considerably in recent years, and this trend is only gaining pace. The Australian METS sector, and companies such as AspenTech, Dassault Systemès and Epiroc, are leading the way globally in this space, providing powerful software, systems and processes to create safer, smarter and more productive mining operations,” said Gibbs Stewart.

METS companies are discovering ways to be more agile and to disrupt the mining and resources sector for the better. Together, METS companies like AspenTech, Dassault Systemès and Epiroc cover the entire process, from the mine to the port, and to the market beyond.

The road ahead for driverless trucks

Automation, digitalisation and electrification are shaping the mine of tomorrow, and METS companies are supporting the sector to do their jobs in a safe, sustainable and efficient way.

Epiroc automation and technology manager Rohan Anderson said automation and data management enables smart, safe and seamless mining.

“The goal of automation is to increase mine productivity, and to improve mine safety, by increasing daily operational capacity and producing predictable data,” Anderson said.

“Data management converts data into decision-making information, and signal deviations and opportunities to maximise the impact on process performance improvement areas.”

Certiq, a sampling of the ground-breaking solutions offered by Epiroc, utilises GPS and on-board diagnostics (OBD) to monitor cars, trucks and equipment. BHP, Goldfields and Roy Hill are some of the big names in mining now deploying Epiroc’s solutions. At Roy Hill, ASI Mining and Epiroc are adapting 77 of Roy Hill’s mixed truck fleet into an interoperable autonomous haulage solution.

Since 2011, Epiroc has supported BHP’s Pit Viper 271 and remote operations centre. Subsequently, Goldfields is being supported by Epiroc’s Mobilaris, which exploits data to decrease evacuation times. BHP, Goldfields and Roy Hill are some of the mining companies who will be sharing insights into METS and more at IMARC.

 Rage against machine learning?

Machine learning and predictive analytics are two disruptive technologies set to change the face of mining according to AspenTech.

“Knowing your equipment really well means AspenTech’s predictive analytics enable clients to get early, accurate warnings of impending equipment failure. AspenTech’s predictive analytics increase throughput by decreasing unplanned downtime and improve safety by identifying potential risks well in advance,” said AspenTech senior account manager Tim Hopkins.

The progression of AI and machine learning is a global shift, and AspenTech is at the vanguard of this movement.

“AI and machine learning will continue to be a bigger part of the mining sector, but not at the expense of jobs. Some traditional roles may no longer be required, but AI and machine learning still require human input and will create a suite of new jobs,” said Hopkins.

AspenTech’s Mtell, is a prescriptive maintenance software, which deploys monitoring agents to pinpoint malfunctions early with precision, irrespective of the equipment or machinery.

“Mtell utilises monitoring agents to predict impending equipment failures, calculate maintenance and replacement lead times, and provide guidance to mitigate or prevent breakdowns,” Hopkins said.

Mtell is powered by machine learning, which enables the monitoring agents to continuously learn about the performance of the equipment and its behaviour under different conditions.

“The benefit of machine learning, is that it enables the software to better minimise deviations, providing smoother operations and guide maintenance activities as required, rather than on a purely scheduled per hours basis,” said Hopkins.

Data is power

The power of data and reviewing scenarios in real-time means companies can assess how to manage waste reduction, mining plans, and tailing dams.

Moreover, Dassault Systemès is on a quest to discover the holy grail of in situ leaching (ISU), where mining operations extract the metal and leave the earth.

“Dassault Systemès uses real data to conduct simulations in real time. The data is collected to create a single source of truth, where the baseline assumptions mean something and simulations can run alongside real-time operations,” said Dassault Systemès GEOVIA chief executive officer Michelle Ash.

Dassault Systemès GEOVIA, employs bespoke modelling and mining engineering software to produce a 4D digital twin or simulated mine site. GEOVIA enables senior executives, survey teams and equipment operators, to see and touch the mine site. Ash said GEOVIA embraces simplicity to deliver complex ideas to people who might not have the technical literacy.

“Platforms don’t need to be complicated or difficult to use, in order to be useful. Creating a bespoke 4D twin enables our clients to really experience their site and to run different scenarios in real-time and see what the impact of that might be to the company,” said Ash.

“Some of these scenarios might include where to mine, what the impact of introducing an electric fleet might be, or even whether diversifying out of one commodity might be beneficial to the overall company.”

 Meeting of mines

METS companies are designing solutions which continue to push the boundaries of the mining and resources sector. The sector has always been an early adopter and METS companies are seeing their solutions embraced by a sector with a desire to become increasingly agile. Agility is king for the mining and resources sector according to Dassault Systemès.

“The ability to look at what a company might do in a certain situation, whether its deciding to mine based on the commodity prices going up or down, whether certain machinery is more efficient than others, or whether a certain acquisition makes sense, is incredibly valuable and means the company remains agile and won’t be left behind,” said Ash.

IMARC offers a sneak peek at the mine of tomorrow and provides opportunities to share ideas essential to the mining sector.

“IMARC provides a dedicated space where the brightest and best can not only discuss their product, but how their innovation is changing the world,” said Ash.

“IMARC provides an excellent opportunity for companies to share their knowledge and expertise with the broader industry, as we work towards a sustainable future for mining,” said Gibbs Stewart.

Automation, machine learning and simulated mines point to a brave new world for the mining and resource sector. Epiroc, AspenTech and Dassault Systemès will be part of a swathe of METS companies showcasing ground-breaking solutions such as these at IMARC on the 31st January to 2nd February 2022 at Melbourne Showgrounds.

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