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The Future That Is Mining 4.0

Mining 4.0 is a new approach to mining that is going to be a lot more automated and efficient than the current practices. It’s going to use technology to automate many of the jobs that are currently done by humans, but it may also lead to some job losses. Read on for a detailed explanation of Mining 4.0 and what it means for you!

Mining as an industry has been a rather hands-on, traditional kind of thing for a while now. Be that as it may, with the massive technological advancements in research and development, that tradition has been gradually changing.

The advancements have been in 4 respects: increasing productivity; improving safety; environmental conservation; and utilizing resources more efficiently. Put those four pillars together and we have a sustainable mining scene that is better perceived by society.

Mining Industry 4.0 as a Concept

As the 4.0 in the name suggests, it has something to do with industry 4.0. If you have never heard of it, it’s the fourth industrial revolution focused on the automation of processes in industries like manufacturing and now mining.

As it is, some mines have already taken some steps towards automating and digitizing their operations with the vision of industry 4.0. Fully automated mines may still be in the works, although more technologically advanced ore processing facilities are a thing already.

So, how different are mines like these from traditional minesMining 4.0 may involve a switch of roles, with miners responsible for ensuring everything runs smoothly instead of doing the actual mining themselves. The thing with mining industry 4.0 is that the miner isn’t confined to a control room.

The centralized command is replaced with real-time data processing and machine status being sent to the miners as they move around the mine. By remotely collaborating with other operators, the miner can solve problems as they arise right from the source.

In a nutshell, production control is done with the assistance of technology with an augmented miner with senses and memory supported by said technology.

Key Challenges in the Mining Industry

Mining is an industry as old as time. Over time, some challenges that mining 4.0 tries to solve have come up, and they include:

High-Risk Work Environment

When you think of mining, you probably think about underground mines and drilling and whatnot. You cannot compare the occupational hazards involved in mining with a more mundane profession like teaching.

Working conditions are nothing if not very unsafe in mining. The revolution has, of course, helped with automation and digitization, reducing the amount of human labor required. The reduction in the use of human labor has reduced the fatality rates considerably.

Work hazards mostly come from design flaws and some oversights in the inspection. They can be prevented with better safety procedures and, of course, some level of automation.

Data Management

Mining isn’t exactly a small-scale industry, so it doesn’t take a genius to infer that it involves a ton of data. Said data needs to be efficiently managed and processed.

Doing everything manually poses a lot of data management headaches. A fully manual system will have lots of disparities, from excavation and site management to data visibility. 4.0 is all about digitalization, which is the aspirin to all these data management and processing headaches.

In the past, operators have relied on point solutions glued together to come up with a working solution. All these little pieces have their interfaces and data protocols.

Environmental Variabilities

Environmental variabilities come in the form of natural disasters like landslides, earthquakes, and floods. Natural disasters like this usually bring a level of unpredictability to mining.

Imagine working a mile and a half under the surface of a coal mine. Scared? Well, imagine seismic shifts or tectonic plates moving and the mine collapsing another half mile. Or there is torrential rainfall and the mine is flooded.

This is how much danger natural disasters pose to mining. More often than not, mining operations cease entirely after a natural disaster. Alternatively, operations are radically changed.

The Mining Industry 4.0 is on its way

Risk is a trademark of the mining industry, and it is exactly that problem that the automation revolution tries to minimize. Technologies of old, including manual mining, manual data processing, and centralized commands, are all being replaced by better, more efficient technologies. Be ready for a digital transformation of the mining industry.

Written By

I am Christine Romeo, a writer and business journalist. I love to write about the latest tech innovations and business trends. I have a background in marketing and communications, so I'm especially interested in how technology is changing the way we do business. When I'm not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

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