IT in Manufacturing


Process automation for sustainable mining

November 2023 IT in Manufacturing

Process automation plays a vital role in making the mining industry more sustainable. It enhances operational efficiency, while reducing environmental impact. By leveraging advanced automation systems, mining companies can optimise resource utilisation, minimise energy consumption, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Process automation contributes to sustainability by enabling precise and data-driven decision making. It delivers real-time monitoring and control of mining operations from a central location that allows for immediate response and adjustments to changing conditions. This ensures that processes are running at their most efficient levels, minimising waste and unnecessary resource usage.

Importantly, process automation facilitates predictive maintenance, which can assist in identifying and addressing mining equipment issues before they escalate into costly breakdowns. This proactive approach not only minimises downtime but also extends the lifespan of mining equipment, reducing the need for frequent replacements and associated resource consumption.

Sustainable mining with process automation

An important differentiator of process automation is its ability to be used in selective mining, targeting high-grade ore deposits with precision. This reduces the amount of overburden that needs to be removed, minimising the environmental disturbance, and preserving surrounding ecosystems.

According to research, as much as five tons of overburden can be produced for every ton of productive material extracted, depending on the mining method used. Minimising overburden is therefore a major advantage for sustainability.

Automation can also help streamline mining operations, eliminating inefficiencies that can negatively impact the business and the environment. For instance, analytics solutions can help identify areas where an organisation is producing excess waste, enabling mining organisations to take actions to mitigate it.

Process automation offers the following important benefits to mining operations:

• Safety: Direct exposure to mining processes and equipment operations poses a significant risk to miners. By automating a process, companies can take the necessary steps to alleviate potential injury to their operators. Furthermore, certain parts of the mining process can be automated, exposing fewer workers to hazardous areas.

• Transparency of consumption: Energy visibility is the starting point for decarbonisation. Obtaining insights from across the value chain is vital for measuring what you use and controlling what you measure.

• Precise and data-driven decision making: This removes any bias or subjectivity from the process. By relying on data and analysis, mining organisations can make decisions based solely on facts rather than personal preferences, previous experience or opinions.

• Predictive maintenance: This seeks to prevent equipment failure and downtime by connecting IoT-enabled enterprise assets, applying advanced analytics to the real-time data it delivers, and using the resultant insights to inform educated, cost-effective and efficient maintenance protocols.

Ultimately, process automation offers precise, data-driven analytics that can assist mining organisations in reducing resource consumption, improving safety, while meeting sustainability requirements and targets.


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