The digital mine: how you can apply AI and Machine Learning to your mining operations

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The digital mine: how you can apply AI and Machine Learning to your mining operations

Earlier this year, Orion attended the Future of Mining conference. One of the key topics for this conference was the immense opportunity for Australian mines to utilise AI and other technology related to digital automation.  

In our first article about zero entry mining and autonomous fleets, we talked about seeing some hesitation in adopting some of digital technology within mining businesses and mining sites.  

And while we agree that there’s no complete replacement for human intuition, AI and machine learning, we have witnessed how they contribute to running a mining operation more efficiently. 

The question is, in what ways are we seeing mining and resource operations utilising AI and machine learning and what impact and benefits is it providing? If it’s something you’ve not been investing in, is it time to reconsider. We weigh it up in the next few paragraphs.  


What will the mine of the future look like? 

When we think of the mine of the future, technology can enable change in 3 key ways: 

To reach these goals, digital automation (including AI) is increasingly being adopted by more mines – both in Australia and the rest of the world.  

But this digital push isn’t just a flash in the pan. It’s predicted that by 2030, digital automation will have the opportunity to add $74 billion in value to the economy – all while creating 80,000 new jobs in the process. 

In other words, AI and machine learning is becoming more widespread across mining operations, creating optimised efficiency levels, improved working conditions, and even lowering mining’s environmental footprint. 

So, with this in mind, what are some examples of AI automation improving mining operations? 


3 examples of how AI and Machine Learning benefit mining operations 

1. Real-time data increases reliability and performance 

Connectivity is at the heart of these kind of advances in technology and we are seeing how it can work to enable real-time data transfers.  

This means that the performance data can be delivered from the mine straight to your data warehouse – all in real-time. 

A mesh network, therefore, opens up new possibilities, such as: 

We are seeing examples of big data enabled by connectivity in multiple ways and with far-reaching benefits to the mine 


2. Reduce manual data processes 

One of the things that really helps increase efficiency can be to simply install sensors on mining machinery, and with AI and Machine Learning, you can save the data collected using these sensors. With data collected from your trucks, power shovels, and other machines you can make better decisions, faster and with more certainty.  

Gavin Wood, CIO at Newcrest Mining, says their AI solution is delivering; “Higher productivity, less downtime, more throughput. With Azure’s AI machine learning and IoT capabilities we see a future where our mines are automated – making our mines safer and more productive.” 

There are many benefits, including improving the functionality of equipment, increasing accuracy, and reducing errors, leading to better productivity and less labour-intensive work for your team. 



3. Agile for better data modelling and quicker problem solving 

An agile approach emphasises the quick creation of something that your team gradually improves upon based on user feedback. By adopting an agile approach, you’ll find and solve any operational challenges quickly.  

This is especially true in data modelling, where an agile approach reduces or outright eliminates the need to tag the data manually – something that increases efficiency and gives you a deeper understanding of the data you’re receiving from your machines and from on-site workers.  

By gathering data from all areas of your mining project you are armed with a wide range of perspectives and expertise, making it easier to cater to and fit the needs of changes to projects, team members, and unforeseen problems arising.  


Can you see your mine adopting a more digital approach? 

If you want to reduce your resource-intensive operations as well as your carbon footprint, Orion can help bring you the connectivity you need to get you there.  

Click here to read more about Orion and our mining resources here. 



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