Creating the cutting Edge Mine – Australia The Mining Technology Frontier

Mining Technology Landscape

What Drives The Australian Mining Technology Landscape?

The mining industry is a leading driver of the Australian economy with over A$140 billion in exports.

To remain competitive, miners are constantly seeking new technologies that increase productivity and provide greater safety for their workforce.

Australia has for a long time been on the frontier of the mine technology landscape. This has not only been driven by necessity but also by that great Aussie spirit that looks to create something out of nothing.

Over the next few minutes, we’ll also take a look at some specific examples from the Australian mining sector that have genuinely changed the way we operate.

We will also touch on what they mean for the mining sector.

In A Industry Like Mining - Does Fancy Mining Technology Even Matter

After all, we are just blowing it up, Crushing it, and processing it.

Here are the top 3 Questions Related to Mining Tech In Australia That We will look to Address

  • How did Australian Mining get here?

  • Where is here, what does the technology landscape look like?

  • Where are we going – What Will The Mining Technology Landscape Look Like in the Future

How Did Mining Technology Get To Where It Now Is?

People talk about Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data, Digital Twins, IoT (Internet Of Things), IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) but is this delivering the biggest shift in the mining value chain that we have seen so far?

From Our perspective, the largest change has been in the mining equipment itself, in the size and structural integrity of that mining equipment.

Manufacturing these mining trucks, loaders, dozers, and plants including bucket wheel reclaimers and luffing stackers all designed to take larger and larger loads, has been the biggest shake-up of the mining sector.

Bigger Mining Equipment Makes Everything Better Right?

It may sound simplistic but the technology that has driven this is just plain and simple mathematics and physics. It’s about how you put steel together and why.

There have then also been the wear surfaces for bucket teeth, cutting edges and chute liners with the introduction of ceramics and toughened steel to enable longer life spans and the introduction of sacrificial parts.

Then there is the crushing technology along with transfer chutes and conveyor technology that means we can move products long distances at significantly reduced costs.

But why is Australia such a Technology hotspot for the Mining World?

It comes down to basic business fundamentals.

The mining industry like all other industries needs to produce a product at a price point that their customer will accept.

So the fact that mines are always looking for opportunities to improve their existing systems should come as no surprise.

But the in-country dynamics at play in the Australian mining industry has meant that the development of mining technology in this country has progressed very quickly.

The main challenges that the minerals sector of Australia faces are the 3 L's

  1. Labour
  2. Location
  3. Legislation

The Labour Impact on the Mining and Minerals Sector

The Mining industry in Australia is one of the best-paid sectors in Australia and for good reason, the work is usually in a remote part of the country.

So getting employees to spend extended periods away from their family and friends means that a premium must be paid.

This premium then also means that those mines that are located closer to the more populated regions also have to increase their rates to ensure that employees, service providers, business partners, and integrated services can service their mine site.

It is for these reasons that the cost of labour can contribute close to 30 to 40 percent of the company operating expenses.

This number alone serves as a great incentive for mining companies to invest in mining technology and even step into the court of developing new technology.


What about the Mining Operations Location?

Add the Location, and legislation challenges into the mix, and the systems and services around the mining business all of a sudden come into sharp focus to not just drive costs down but improve safety and find ways to engage the workforce so as that they are looking over the fence to check out the grass on the other side.

The Impact of legislation on a Mining Company Cannot Be Understated!

The typical timeline for the development of a mine is long in any country but in Australia, these dynamics change significantly.

So when you are getting a mining operation off the ground all mining companies are looking for mining technology, artificial intelligence, and pretty much any system, expertise, or contact to ensure rapid implementation.

The new mining company is looking to get the support that it requires to see it go through the approvals process as quickly as possible and into safe and productive mining operations as quickly as possible.

The ultimate outcome is to achieve a payday for the company and shareholders in a time frame that keeps shareholders interested and ensures what they have invested pays off.

Australian Mining Technology The Here and Now

  • equipment Maintenance costs aren’t coming down,
  • labour costs definitely aren’t coming down,
  • cost of technology implementation is not coming down,
  • the complexity of mining deposits is not getting easier,
  • deposits are getting deeper and more complex,
  • regulations are becoming more complex
  • public opinion is rapidly changing
  • services are evolving
  • the last decade was crazy so from present-day to tomorrow what will it look like?

One thing is for sure that you can always expect to be surprised by the latest news, the rapid adoption of new technology, and the evolution of the mining technology landscape!

Today's mining technology landscape really is littered by has been widgets, inventions, and dreams

Nothing can express this more than a ride in a Cat 793D truck which will without a doubt be littered by numerous devices that no longer work or brackets that once cradled that latest and greatest.

Sure there are great new companies out there making a difference and looking at new ways to make the Australian mining landscape more sustainable. But there are lots of them out there.

What Will The Mining Landscape look like in the Future?

Will we get the promised efficiencies?

Autonomous haulage will play a role but, the human input will likely play a much larger role than previously thought.

Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning will get simplified once again and the everyday mining leader will be able to understand and apply the outputs.

The DATA will make sense and not be a big dirty mess!

Every Mining Company will put in place the platform and infrastructure to support the future.

And the ability for a mining company to take insights and form an opinion from clean and trustworthy data will be considered the norm!