Back in 2003, the veteran professor of mining at the Varsity of British Columbia commenced telling students to make preparations for a ground-shaking transition into automated mining equipment: bots.
Think driverless dump vans, remote-operated drilling automobiles, and other craft to do tough or deadly work underground.
The installation of these facilities and the upkeep of apparatus will be done by electrical and valve testing mechanical people, but mining engineers have to understand the principles behind this gear and how it all coordinates together. Within just a few years you are going to be responsible for a fleet of wagons that are completely robotic. ‘”
This transition isn’t about replacing folks. Requirement for mining engineers and skilled labour has skyrocketed and mining firms around the globe predict a worker lack. Worker safety is the number one reason for automation.
Going underground is a threatening occupation and if we are able to set up systems where we are able to operate the apparatus remotely from surface, then we’ve took away the miner from the danger.
There are similar advantages for the open-pit mines that typify operations.
A lorry driver in an open pit mine … At the start of a shift could be wide awake, but what about the end of 12 hours of driving back and forth between Point An and Point B? Every year, three or four lorry drivers are killed because they have fallen asleep or driven over the side. It is a threatening occupation.
Robot truck movements are so consistent that operators must make minute variations in the trail they follow, otherwise they’d wear ruts into roads around the mine.
There is another reason for the transition. The standard of ore at older mines tends to decline as operations move from the first ore body. That means mine operators need to become more efficient if they wish to continue to be profitable.
What we are seeing in the bizz are real challenges associated with the falling ore grades at existing operations and existing mines – and having to move with bigger and larger kit to get the same yield.
Additionally , exploration and new discoveries of ore zones are generally in fairly nasty places on Earth with virtually no existing framework. The new frontier in the north, with an absence of framework – prerequisites for power and water solutions – is definitely a trend.
Author: Andy SwallowThis author has published 2 articles so far.