Some emerging technologies are set to completely transform the way mining professionals will operate over the next 10 years. Whether we are talking about improving productivity, saving money or boosting safety in order to better protect the workers, there are 11 technologies that will change the way we mine, according to a recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute.
The document claims that the combination of these technologies – such as advanced robots or mobile communications – means a potential impact of between $14 trillion and $33 trillion a year in 2025. Let’s take a look at these 12 technologies:
1. Mobile internet
Potential economic impact in 2025: $3.7 trillion to $10.8 trillion
At the top of this list you can find mobile internet, a service that is expected to improve enormously the worker productivity and service delivery. Besides improving the mine’s safety, this enhanced communication technology has also transformed the way safety and communications are managed.
Potential economic impact in 2025: $5.2 trillion to $6.2 trillion
Automation in mining will improve safety and streamline operations, especially through the remote operation centres. The intelligent software systems that are already being developed can perform knowledge-work tasks.
3. Internet of things
Potential economic impact in 2025: $2.7 trillion to $6.7 trillion
This field will establish networks of low-cost sensors and actuators to collect, monitor and process data, improving the process optimisation. It will also a more efficient use of resources, control of optimal water and electricity usage.
Potential economic impact in 2025: $1.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion
Combining software and hardware, tools like SaaS (software-as-a-service) and cloud integration will allow the mining companies to integrate their various applications so data is entered just once, saving time and creating consistency.
5. Advanced robotics
Potential economic impact in 2025: $1.7 trillion to $4.5 trillion
In this case, we are talking about increasingly capable robots with enhanced habilities and intelligence that can automate several tasks. Today’s market conditions means finding operational efficiencies is more important than ever.
6. Autonimous or near-autonomous vehicles
Potential economic impact in 2025: $0.2 trillion to $1.9 trillion
Automation is clearly here to stay, even in vehicles. Autonomous or near-autonomous vehicles might save 30,000 to 150,000 from potentially fatal traffic accidents.
7. Energy storage
Potential economic impact in 2025: $0.1 trillion to $0.6 trillion
After next generation genomics, which will enable the “writing” of DNA and doesn’t apply to mining, comes the evolution of energy storage techniques. This is going to be an excellent option to reduce the use of diesel generators, bringing down electricity costs and minimising the carbon footprint of each mine.
8. 3D printing
Potential economic impact in 2025: $0.2 trillion to $0.6 trillion
Miners are among the professionals who are going to greatly benefit from the further development of manufacturing technologies like 3D printing. This technology will be able to solve a problem that often affects the mining sites: the needing of replacement parts.
9. Advanced materials
Potential economic impact in 2025: $0.2 trillion to $0.5 trillion
The number 10 on the McKinsey’s list, but our ninth place when it comes to mining technologies, are advances materials with superior strength or conductivity. This evolution will improve the longevity of mining machinery, the formulation of better engine oils and the reduction of the maintenance costs.
10. Advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery
Potential economic impact in 2025: $0.1 trillion to $0.5 trillion
Fuel costs are going up, like CO2 emissions, and mining companies are always looking for ways to decrease this outlay. The evolution in oil and gas exploration and recovery might minimise this problem.
11. Renewable electricity
Potential economic impact in 2025: $0.2 trillion to $0.3 trillion
Mining companies are always looking for ways to reduce their electricity bill and renewable energy can help with this, while also helps the environment.