January 2018


Read the Full Analysis [PDF]


By 2020, robots will replace more than 50 percent of miners, and mining accidents will be cut by 75 percent. Half of the miners will themselves be retrained to run the technology controlling the robots.

Robots will be at the forefront of most mineral extraction by 2020, reducing safety risks for miners, maximising output, and streamlining costs. By 2020, we predict robots will replace most miners. Most in the workforce will be retained, but advances in technology and remote mining equipment will transform what that workforce looks like.

The global mining industry is already well-acquainted with autonomous technology. Self-driving trucks and autonomous drillers and muckers are employed onsite at almost every large multinational company’s mines. “Snake robots”—named for their agility—are equipped with Internet-connected sensors and used to navigate narrow mine shafts and collect data. Drones are also beginning to play a role in mapping the topography of a mine and capturing aerial images of inaccessible areas of the mine to identify possible vulnerabilities
and areas of tension. Remote vein miners (RVMs) are being developed to eliminate the need to drill and
blast to excavate rock—potentially reducing rock stress that can lead to seismic events.

The rise of the robot is not a death knell for the mining workforce but will inevitably lead to a demand for
reskilling. Traditional operational positions—drilling, blasting, and driving—will be downsized, but replaced by demand for remote operators and maintenance personnel to create the new version of the miner. Emerging digital mining jobs—engineers, software developers, and data processing and data analytics specialists—are more likely to attract the technologically savvy millennial workforce. By 2020, mining automation and data analytics will be key components of the curriculum for mining engineers.

Digitisation also promises to reduce safety risks for miners. Not only will robots assume the most dangerous tasks, but they’ll also be key to minimising damage if disaster strikes. Snake robots and the smart sensors they’re equipped with will be further optimised to capture real-time data to predict or quickly identify equipment malfunctions and closely track miners’ exact locations and vitals. With the aid of robots and new technology, the number of mining fatalities will be cut in half by 2020.

Mining is in the early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, and further digitisation is just around the corner.


Supply chain transparency will take the compliance spotlight for 2020 as companies gear up for the European Union’s Conflict Minerals Rule, effective in 2021.

The EU’s efforts to stem trade in minerals that finance armed conflicts and terror groups will turn a spotlight on global mining companies’ supply chains by 2020.

The EU’s Conflict Minerals Regulation, effective in 2021, establishes supply chain due diligence for imports of tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold (3TG)—used to produce phones, cars, and jewellery. The rule aims to ensure
European industries use responsiblysourced minerals, stemming proceeds that finance armed conflict in highrisk areas.

What the rule means for the mining industry:

  • EU-based 3TG importers and their international supply chain partners—smelters and refiners— will need to update their supply chain due diligence
  • Additionally, 3TG importers in the EU will need to identify the smelters and refiners in their supply chains, confirm their due diligence practices comply, and report insufficient supply chain due diligence
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) laid out a five-step framework for the due diligence requirements:
    • Create strong company management systems
    • Identify and assess supply chain risk
    • Implement a program to respond to such risks
    • Conduct an independent thirdparty audit of supply chain due diligence
    • Submit annual reports on supply chain due diligence.

All upstream companies are subject to the due diligence requirements when they import—the riskiest area of the supply chain—as are downstream companies that import metal-stage products. This regulation will likely create a lowest common denominator effect across the global mining industry—for EU-based 3TG importers and their international supply chain partners—requiring the entire industry to put supply chain due diligence at the forefront.


By 2020, activist hackers will launch at least five cyberattacks on mines around the world in Permanent Denial of Service attacks aimed at eliminating the environmental and social threats they pose. They’ll use workers’ connected devices to initiate the attacks.

The mining industry is no stranger to environmental scrutiny. Advances in technology have introduced more sustainable mining methods, including the emerging practice of bioleaching, in which companies extract inerals by using biological assets instead of harmful chemicals. Despite those advancements, environmental concerns ersist, including water and soil contamination, carbon emissions, and impact on animal life. Pressure from environmentalist is set to increase by 2020. In fact, an emerging type of environmentalist—activist hackers (hacktivists)—will soon have their targets locked on the mining industry. By 2020, there will be at least five Permanent Denial of Service (PDoS) cyberattacks on mines around the world, motivated by eliminating the environmental and social threats they pose.

PDoS attacks are the next generation of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks—which temporarily disable operations—and aim for permanent destruction. In a PDoS attack, hackers’ goals include destroying physical equipment and structures, disabling services, and/or wiping out data. For global mining companies in the early stages of harnessing big data, losing seismic and reserves data would be damaging to their ongoing operations.

While the rapid acceleration and adoption of new technology will be instrumental in bolstering mining’s future, it will also be the sector’s Achilles heel when it comes to cybersecurity. The industrial control system, the central hub controlling a mine’s automated operations, could serve as the hacker’s point of entry into the mine’s remote
operating controllers and connected devices. Damage and disruption to automated equipment could also jeopardise the safety of workers in the mines—as many of the systems in place are designed to monitor and
detect dangerous conditions.


By 2020, renewables will account for one-quarter of the world’s electricity generation as dependence on coal wanes.

Decreased coal consumption in China—the world’s largest coal consumer—is slowing global demand for the commodity. According to the International Energy Agency, global coal consumption decreased about 2 percent last year. In confluence with the rapid growth of renewables, the world’s energy mix is set for a shakeup. By 2020, we predict that renewables will grow to account for one-quarter of the world’s electricity generation as dependence on coal wanes.

Mining plays an integral behindthe-scenes role in developing renewable energy. Electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panes rely on minerals like aluminium, copper, lithium, and various emerging, rare metals. Powered y new technology, deep-sea mining is allowing mining companies to tap into previously inaccessible reserves of copper, nickel, and cobalt, among others, beneath the ocean floor to fuel increased demand for these minerals.

In 2019, Nautilus Minerals, a Canadian mining firm, is set to launch one of the first large deep-sea mining ventures in the Bismarck Sea with the aid of remote-controlled robots. The excursion is forecast to produce more than 72,500 metric tons of copper and more than 4.5 metric tons of gold. The International Seabed Authority, a United Nations regulatory body, has granted 25 contracts to nations including China, India, Japan, and Brazil to embark on similar deep-sea mining projects.

By 2020, further advancements will be made to overcome one of renewables’ largest hurdles: energy storage. The world’s largest lithium ion battery—built by Elon Musk in November 2017—is a 100-milliwatt (MW) battery storage farm located in Australia. Come 2020, the capacity of energy storage is likely to evolve well beyond 100MW, solidifying renewables’ role in the world’s energy mix.


Global mining companies leveraging Internet-connected sensors and automated drillers in mines will decrease their per ton digging costs by more than 30 percent.

In an environment of subdued commodity prices, the value of harnessing technology is clear. Mining companies’ end consumers closely monitor the price of commodities and are sensitive to the slightest uptick. For automakers, for example, steel is a significant expense on their books. When multiplied by a few thousand metric tons, a variance of a few cents on steel price could incentivise automakers to find a new supplier. Global demand is not expected to wane. In fact, steel and mining company ArcelorMittal forecasts a 36 percent increase to automakers’ global demand for steel by 2020. However, which global mining companies win that business is up for debate.

Tapping into new technology is key to streamlining operations, reducing expenditure, and enabling companies to keep their prices competitive. The International Institute for Sustainable Development estimates driverless technology, for instance, increases mining output by 15 to 20 percent, while decreasing fuel and maintenance costs by 10 to 15 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Self-driving trucks are just the tip of the iceberg. Global
mining companies that digitise nearly all their drilling—relying on a combination of automated drillers and Internet-connected sensors—will recognise far more significant savings. By 2020, we predict global mining companies’ per ton digging costs will decrease by more than 30 percent because of automation.

These savings factor in reduced labour costs, increased output, a decrease in the number of safety incidents, and companies’ ability to enhance decision-making capabilities leveraging the vast amount of data collected by smart mines.

Return to BDO’s Energy 2020 Vision: The Near Future of Mining

The top mining trends of 2018

Mining is poised for growth, according to Deloitte’s 2018 Tracking the Trends report.

The latest issue of key mining trends, the 10thedition in the series, focuses on how the Australian, and global marketplace, is navigating this expansion by identifying strategies companies can use during the ongoing industry recovery.

Click here for a snapshot of this year’s trends from Deloitte.

With this growth, rapid change will follow, Deloitte explained, adding that a common modern-day theme — digital technology — would be at the core of this transition.

The industry has progressed from the need for miners to understand and develop digital projects to how they ‘bring digital to life’ at their operations.

This is the opening trend for Deloitte in 2018, and one that offers an overbearing theme for many of the points that follow it in the report.

Digital may be an ongoing trend in the current mining environment, but Deloitte points to the importance of effectively using the data these technologies create, including the ability to organise, manage and process it.

Deloitte Australia national mining leader Ian Sanders described digital technology as an important competitive advantage that miners must capitalise on.

“If you look at the majors, yes, they have the programs of activity up and running. They are looking at their investment dollars, particularly how they invest them and the competitive nature of these investments,” Sanders told Australian Mining.

“Digital is one of those competitive elements — how much do they actually spend on automation? How much do they spend on the back office digital? how much do they actually look at their ecosystem of suppliers and customers, government, other stakeholders and co-mingle that investment within digital is really important?”

Deloitte’s report explained that transitioning to the future digital mine typically started by focusing on core mining processes with the goal of automating physical operations and digitising assets.

It believes the real value from digital technology comes from unlocking the insights within data by rethinking the way information is generated and processed.

Many major miners have been on the front foot in this area, according to Deloitte, with the report using the example of a global company that identified latent system potential across its pit, rail and port network by effectively using data.

However, the report adds that many mining organisations are not yet using all the data they are capturing from operational systems, or are still struggling to improve reporting from legacy systems.

Despite the challenges, Sanders said the full spectrum of mining companies was now looking at digital technology projects — the majors, mid tiers, juniors and services companies.

“I think you have to. Firstly, to be relevant, and secondly, to survive,” he said. “Whether you are a major, junior or mid-tier you are absolutely thinking about it because everyone is thinking about efficiency and digital is a core element of becoming more efficient.

“There are some mid tiers and juniors which are very active when it comes to digital and technology. It’s not as though they have been left behind, it’s how can they extract the investment dollar to best leverage digital within their organisation?”

Technology isn’t the only disruptor in mining — there are also emerging commodities changing the landscape of the industry, according to Deloitte’s trends.

The so-called tech metals, or Deloitte’s commodities of the future — nickel, lithium, cobalt and graphite — are another leading element of change in mining.

Deloitte Consulting mining leader David Cormack said it would have been hard to believe 20 years ago that these commodities would be an affordable way to power batteries.

“But, today that is the reality and a potential growth opportunity, particularly with the emergence of electric vehicles,” Cormack said.

“And although asteroid mining for rare metals still sounds like science fiction today, the market potential in the not-too-distant future could be huge. If mining companies want to get ahead of the trends, they need to delve deeply into emerging market disruptors.”

Deloitte’s 2018 trends include: Bringing digital to life; Overcoming innovation barriers; The future of work; Shifting perceptions; Transforming stakeholder relationships; Water; Changing shareholder expectations; Reserve replacement woes; Realigning mining boards to drive transformation; and, Commodities of the future.

Click here for a snapshot of this year’s trends from Deloitte.

Weir Minerals launches Cerasmooth compound

Weir Minerals has upgraded its polymer-ceramic composite for the Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) market.

Specially engineered for use in FGD applications, the Cerasmooth compound is designed to provide ultimate wear and corrosion resistance.

“We are focused on the continuous improvement of our materials, which is why we have enhanced our existing formulation to improve component wear life and meet the ever more demanding market’s needs,” Weir Minerals executive vice president of engineering Patrick Moyer.

Cerasmooth material was developed for the Warman GSL pump series but can also be used for any acidic, light slurry application.

The FGD application can experience wide variations in pH during operation and also contains erosive components in the slurry. This makes it difficult to select an optimum metal solution to cover the range of possible conditions.

Materials used in this application need to be capable of handling these demanding and varying operating conditions.

“The polymer matrix of Cerasmooth is almost impervious to the extremely acidic environments that can occur in FGD duties, and the ceramic filler provides outstanding wear resistance to the typical erosive particles in the slurry,” Weir Minerals director of research and development Edward Humphries said.

Cerasmooth compound has an equal combination of erosion and corrosion resistance, which work together to deliver optimum life in an FGD circuit, offering customers longer wear life than ever before.

“Significant in-house wear testing has shown that up to 60 per cent improvement over the previous polymer ceramic material offering can be obtained. This has been achieved by successfully improving the bond that holds the wear resistant silicon carbide grains in place during the wear process,” Humphries said.

“In addition, the uniquely formulated composite material boasts increased mechanical strength and improved strain characteristics. “Achieving flexible strength as high as double that seen in first generation materials.”

By utilising Cerasmooth material, operators can significantly improve the service life of their pump compared to metal and rubber liners.

Compared to a rubber lined pump, Cerasmooth compound has an increased ability to withstand the cutting damage that can be caused by pipe scale coming loose from the FGD circuit and passing through the pump.

Cerasmooth material was developed through a rigorous process of testing various polymer binders and ceramic fillers to find the optimum combination to deliver the performance required.

Skills gap becomes key challenge despite rising industry confidence

The dark days of mining’s downturn may be over but the industry’s leaders now have different challenges to grapple with, according to Newport Consulting.

Skills shortages and cost pressures, not unfamiliar issues for the industry, have re-emerged as the key ongoing concerns for mining leaders, Newport’s latest Mining Business Outlook Report revealed.

Despite these emerging challenges, the eighth report in Newport’s series outlines that sentiment in the mining industry is positive, with the number of miners showing cautious optimism increasing by 55 per cent since 2015.

In addition, the report found that almost three quarters of industry leaders are showing renewed confidence in the sector’s growth.

However, it looks as though skills shortages and cost pressures may be a threat to this growth in confidence continuing.

Newport consulting managing director David Hand believes a spate of mining companies are concerned that Australia will face a growing skills gap, particularly in the areas of technology and automation.

“We spoke to many companies of all sizes that voiced concern over a widening skills gap, giving way to a pressing need to upskill and re-train the workforce. Miners must be able to meet the new digital demands of Australia’s mining future,” Hand said.

With a growing gap in the number of technical employees trained to manage future autonomous roles, Hand added there were signs that mining was “getting on the front foot” to ensure its workforce remained agile and flexible.

“Rio Tinto is a prime example of a company leading the field in this area, having recently partnered with the WA Government and TAFE Australia to provide vocational training in robotics for mining workers. The government should follow Rio Tinto’s lead to close this growing skills gap, which is occurring because of technology disruption,” Hand said.

A key takeaway from the report was the push from mining leaders to embrace new technology, with automaton continuing to become vital for operations.

Automation and Big Data were the leading priorities, with 21 per cent of respondents believing automated haulage vehicles will be the top technology influence to impact the market this year.

Drones, which are used to map, survey and explore mines, were considered another key area for investment.

Meanwhile, more than half of mining leaders predicted an increase in commodity prices over the next 12 months. The exception, however, was thermal coal, which was forecast to face price challenges.

After spending more in 2016, many miners plan to continue this trend, with 42 per cent expecting to moderately increase investment in 2017-2018.

FLSmidth SAGwise™ to revolutionise mill liner protection

Posted by Paul Moore on 12th January 2018

FLSmidth has just launched a new SAG mill liner protection solution called SAGwise™ total process control, with an estimate of less than six months ROI. It has been shown in tests that it can reduce damage to the liners by over 40%. FLSmidth told IM: “Extending the life and availability of mill liners is crucial. Weighing up to 4 t a piece, mill liners require a lot of effort to replace when they are worn out, and SAG mill downtime can be around $130,000/h, while lead times can span months. Overall it can cost well over $1 million dollars for a liner package.”

As stated, test results of the new product show reduced damage to the liners of 40% and an ROI of six months (without factoring in reduced unscheduled maintenance). Added this are reduced energy consumption of 6% – significant considering that mills use the by far largest amount of power required for minerals processing. The new solution also saw a production increase of 6% and reduced process variability up to 30%. The SAGwise™ total process control solution employs state of the art process control technologies to reduce critical impacts to the desired targets, stabilising and then optimising the operation of the SAG mill. Multiple process control technologies, such as model predictive control and fuzzy logic are embedded into the solution, modelling both the process and the human operators.

The system is based on acoustic sensors and proprietary process control software to predict and adjust the SAG mill operation according to impacts on the mill and other main process variables. King Becerra, FLSmidth Global Product Line Manager – Process Optimisation told IM: “There are eight audio sensors on a bidirectional mill, four on each side. These have embedded microphones that listen for so-called critical steel on steel impacts between balls and liners rather than between ore and liners. Today, plant operators rely on the personnel close to the SAG mill listening to the mill load and undesirable steel-on-steel impacts to manually adjust the SAG mill operation, reducing undesirable impacts, and run the mill smoothly. But the FLSmidth SAGwise™ system takes this digital audio data and uses techniques such as model predictive control and fuzzy logic rules to assess the mill process parameters.”

“Within seconds it has analysed the audio frequencies as well as taking on board power usage, mill weight and bearing pressure. It can then automatically take corrective action if needed and adjust parameters such as the mill ore feed rate, mill speed or water usage. Whereas an operator might make adjustments every few minutes, SAGwise™ can make more frequent (every 20 seconds or less) and less drastic adjustments.” The reduced damage improves mill availability and reduces downtime. “This can translate to literally multiple millions more tonnes of ore milled,” says FLSmidth.

Jack Meegan, FLSmidth Global Product Line Manager – Mill Liners and Wear Parts told IM: “We took technology that we already have and mated them together to make a solution. We can say to the customer, of course we want to sell you mill liners, but at the same time we want to make sure you are getting more value from your liners as well as your media. With many mines using $10 million or more of liners per year and three or four times this cost in terms of grinding media, the savings  can be huge.”


South Australia’s lithium-ion battery grabbed the headlines in 2017, first when Elon Musk announced he’d build the world’s largest battery in 100 days or it would be free, then again when he accomplished it, and yet again when the battery reacted to power surges in record time in December.

But the big battery is really just part of the ongoing renewable energy story of South Australia.

The year kicked off with the South Australian government launching the $550 million South Australian Energy Plan, which includes a $150 million Renewable Technology Fund that will provide $75 million in grants and $75 million in loans to help private companies and entrepreneurs develop eligible projects.

Musk’s now famous battery was one of the first projects to be funded, receiving $20 million to story the energy from the Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia’s Mid North, which is owned by French renewable company Neoen.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announce the world’s largest battery at Hornsdale Wind Farm in the state’s Mid-North. Picture: Andre Castellucci/InDaily

Global energy companies have taken notice of South Australia’s leadership in renewables and began investing in the state in earnest in 2017.

In August Solar Reserve announced it would build a 150MW solar thermal in Port Augusta, incorporating eight hours of storage or 1100MWh, allowing it to operate like a conventional coal or gas power station.

Electricity retailer Snowy Hydro and Singapore-based renewable energy developer Equis will also build a 100 MW solar farm near Tailem Bend, 100 km southeast of Adelaide. Reach Solar currently have the 220 MW Bungala solar farm about 12km from Port Augusta under construction, with Origin Energy entering a power purchase agreement for the output of the project.

Lyon Group also plans to build a 330MW solar generation and 100MW battery storage system in the state’s Riverland.

Solar technology company Fluid Solar also unveiled its new head office in Adelaide this year, which will run completely on renewable energy, independent of the state’s power grid.

A field trial to develop highly efficient solar energy heliostats made from plastic opened in October, bringing togetherBottom of Form car parts manufacturer Precision Components and the University of South Australia

The concentrated solar research field in the northern suburbs of Adelaide includes 25 heliostats each measuring 7.2 square metre and a 16-metre-tall concentrated solar photo-voltaic (PV) receiver, which can generate about 30 kW of electricity per hour.

Find better ways to store South Australia’s abundant solar and wind energy was a theme throughout the year and in October the latest projects to benefit from the Renewable Technology Fund included a system to capture biogas from a wastewater treatment plant, store it as thermal energy and sell it to the electricity grid.

South Australian company 1414 Degrees has spent almost a decade developing its Thermal Energy Storage System (TESS) technology to store electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon at a cost estimated to be up to 10 times cheaper than lithium batteries.

The wastewater treatment plant project will use $1.6 million in government funding to help build a 0.25MW/10MWh thermal energy storage device that holds heat generated from the combustion of biogas produced on site.

The Renewable Technology Fund has attracted more than 80 proposals for technologies that include batteries, bioenergy, pumped hydro, thermal, compressed air and hydrogen from companies around the world.

The year ended with the Australian researchers who successfully unboiled an egg turning their attention to capturing the energy of graphene oxide (GO) to make a more efficient alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

The Flinders University team has partnered with Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria, Australian Stock Exchange-listed First Graphene Ltd and manufacturer Kremford Pty Ltd to develop a GO-powered battery, a super-capacity energy storage alternative to emerging lithium-ion battery (LIB) technology.


By Shannon Belew, Joel Elad

When you have an Internet business there is almost always no shortage of online tools to help manage and grow your business. This is certainly the case with content personalization for the web. Here are some favorite solutions that make it easy to use personalization on your site in an effort to increase conversions — and revenue!

  • Triblio: Considered an Account Based Marketing (ABM) tool, Triblio allows you to show personalized content and offers on your website to prospective buyers. You can provide your content to known and unknown website visitors, as well as show personalized content to targeted buyers (specific leads or accounts you are trying to influence and sell to). Triblio also works with e-mail or marketing automation platforms and Google AdWords.
  • Folloze: Account-based marketing is also a core capability for this personalization tool. But one of the things we really like about Folloze is the unique method for delivering personalized content to buyers. Folloze lets you create content boards that contain many different pieces of content all designed for a specific buyer. Think of it in terms of a Pinterest-style layout of a board (or online page) that groups your content in one easy to access place. The figure shows an example of a personalized board from the Folloze website. Another benefit of this tool is that it not only tracks who engages with or visits the board, but which pieces of content they interact with; and it lets you see who the prospective buyer is that is viewing the board. You can put a link to a Folloze board in an e-mail, on a page of your site, or just about anywhere.
  • Evergage: This content personalization tool monitors your site visitors’ intent in order to know which content to show them. In addition to tracking what places of offers get clicked, Evergage also tracks how much time is spent on each page, where the visitors’ computer mouse hovers, and how they scroll through a page. Looking at a host of data points as they occur on your site in real-time, or why a visitor is actually on the site, the tool uses machine-based learning to make recommendations and decisions on which content to deliver to the visitor. Evergage is designed for large e-tailers and other sites with heavy traffic, and can identify the users and what purchases or interests they’ve had on other sites and then recommend similar products or content to be shown on your site.
Create a custom board to deliver highly personalized content to buyers using Folloze.

There are plenty more web personalization and account based marketing tools available. And, you don’t have to start out using the tools, which can range from several hundred dollars per month to several thousand dollars monthly. These tools are a significant investment. But to compete online today, offering a one-to-one personalized approach to marketing with content and product offers is quickly becoming a necessity in order for you to remain competitive.

Visualization Program Protects Statistical Significance

In the modern age when Microsoft Excel lives on nearly every computer, and programs like Qlik® use advanced analytics to draw up graphical representations of big data, it’s easy for users to explore large data sets for exciting correlations and discoveries.

Visualizations in green represent a statistically significant finding. Findings in red are on “shaky statistical ground.” (Source: Kraska Lab/Brown University)Visualizations in green represent a statistically significant finding. Findings in red are on “shaky statistical ground.” (Source: Kraska Lab/Brown University)Unfortunately, as any statistician will tell you, the ability to ask unending questions of the same data series increases the chance for false discoveries. This idea is termed the “multiple hypothesis error.”

Luckily for those of us enamored with modern data visualization software, a team of researchers from Brown University may be on their way to resolving this error.

Tim Kraska, an assistant professor of computer science at Brown and a co-author of the research, describes the error. He explains, “these tools make it so easy to query data. You can test 100 hypotheses in an hour using these visualization tools. Without correcting for multiple hypothesis error, the chances are very good that you’ll come across a correlation that’s completely bogus.”

The researchers presented a new program called QUDE at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOD) 2017 conference in Chicago. QUDE adds real-time statistical safeguards to interactive data exploration systems.

The program highlights figures and feedback green or red to indicate their statistical significance or potential concern regarding the correlation.

Ordinarily, insignificant correlations would be caught by well-established protocols in statistics. The problem is, most of these techniques are used after-the-fact, and with visualization software, more and more users are not trained in statistics, they merely rely on the program to present them with methodologies.

“We don’t want to wait until the end of a session to tell people if their results are valid,” says Eli Upfal, a computer science professor at Brown and research co-author. Instead, Upfal explains, “you have a budget of how much false discovery risk you can take, and we update that budget in real time as a user interacts with the data.”

While this program, like any program, cannot guarantee complete accuracy, it’s a solid step in the direction for amateur statisticians.

Reducing The Environmental Impact On Mines

There are two main issues to consider when it comes to the environmental impacts of a mine:

  • The erection of plant, and its ongoing effect on its surrounds; and
  • How the site is rehabilitated after the mine has been decommissioned.

A fixed plant typically requires land being cleared, walls being built and roads being established. Then there is the plant assembly itself, which involves conveyor belts being constructed, material processing equipment put in place and draglines being set up, plus a range of peripheral considerations.

Sizing ore or minerals is a key component in mining operations. Setting up a permanent plant to allow processing and its affiliated operations can have a massive impact on the environment.

First, traditional plant used for high capacity crushing is enormous – it can be up to 32 metres high. This means that even before a site is set up, fixed plant has a large carbon footprint due to the amount of material used to construct it.

Then there is the construction of the plant onsite, which can take up large tracts of land due to the equipment itself plus support structures including buildings.

Also, there are the concrete or Reinforced Earth (RE) walls that are necessary for permanent plant. Not only can they have a negative impact on the environment, but they also take time to establish and require a lot of resources to complete.

Finally, there is the rehabilitation of the site. Costs can run into millions of dollars, depending on how much impact a mine has had on an area. If care has not been taken, or the plant has operated outside its agreed parameters, it means the approved remedies decided between state/local government bodies and the mining company might not be met.

Australian state and federal legislation puts the onus on mining companies to return a site to as close to its original condition as possible. The more permanent plant and installations that are set up initially, the more that has to be deconstructed and managed.

Minimising The Carbon Footprint

A piece of equipment that could help alleviate the impact on the environment is a Semi-Mobile Sizer Station from MMD.

For a start, they can be smaller than a permanent station – available in a range of modular designs, currently with a maximum height of 17 metres.

It also negates the need for concrete retaining walls because a fabricated truck bridge is used instead. Like the Semi-Mobile Sizer Station, the truck bridge can be deployed again and again, so there is no fixed plant to dispose of once the mine’s life expires.

Finally, there is no decommissioning of plant. With permanent plant there are concrete walls to be removed and earth landscaped. The area where the plant was located has to be rehabilitated with plants, trees, dirt and other stipulations as agreed.

With a Semi-Mobile Sizer Station, the plant is not in place long enough to cause as much impact. Furthermore, when it comes to moving to a different site, it is simply a case of picking up the unit on a transporter and moving it to its next location. There is no need for plant breakdown, crushing of concrete, or large fleets of trucks to take equipment away.

With modular construction and minimal maintenance, MMD equipment provides greener, more cost effective-solutions for today’s mines.

To read more on the environmental benefits of Semi-Mobile Sizer Stations, view MMD Australia’s whitepaper here.

Schneider releases system architecture for the mining sector

Schneider Electric has released EcoStruxure for the mining industry a new system architecture and platform that leverages innovative digital technologies and the industrial internet of things (IIoT) to allow companies to connect, collect, analyse and act on data in real time to improve safety, efficiency, reliability and sustainability.

Core technology layers

EcoStruxure integrates innovation at three levels:

  1. Connected Products: Field devices with embedded intelligence such as sensors, circuit breakers, meters, variable speed drives and process instrumentation provide the link to real-time data that is essential to higher-level control and decision-making.
  2. Edge Control: Real-time and runtime control systems are connected to field devices and collect data from them, analyse current conditions against goals and past performance, and make autonomous control decisions (or aid in operator decion-making) to improve process performance. At the heart of the edge control layer is the Modicon M580 Ethernet PAC (ePAC), the automation controller that uses open Ethernet standards to enable process efficiency, flexibility, and cybersecurity.
  3. Applications, Analytics, and Services: At the highest level of the EcoStruxure architecture, sophisticated problem solving and analysis is performed on an enterprise-wide basis to optimise business operations and maximise results. On this level, Schneider Electric provides a portfolio of software and associated services, including: Advanced predictive analytics for process and equipment; leading-edge virtual and augmented reality for operators and maintenance personnel; energy/ process optimisation and simulation; and integrated operations, planning and supply chain management.

Rob Moffitt, president of Schneider’s Mining, Minerals and Metals segment said, “With EcoStruxure, Schneider Electric is redefining automation and power connectivity as well as adding an unprecedented layer of software applications and services to help our customers get the most of their assets.

“By bridging IT and OT, EcoStruxure enables them to maximise the value of data and translate it into actionable intelligence for better business decisions.”

EcoStruxure provides added value in three key stages:

  1. Digital supply chain: through solutions that integrate resource to market activities, inventory management, and operations and planning.
  2. Next generation workforce: by providing technologies that attract and empower the next generation of workers and facilitate knowledge transfer, collaboration, situational awareness, mobility and remote operations efficiency.
  3. Operational excellence: with solutions that optimise and stabilise process performance and reduce energy usage, thereby achieving the highest level of performance and reliability from critical assets.

Moffitt added that EcoStruxure is not just another platform limited to asset performance analytics.

“It’s a complete set of digital technologies and applications that can improve the performance of the entire organisation, from people to operations to supply chain,” he concluded.