The adoption of cutting-edge technology such as decentralized technology/blockchain, artificial intelligence, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), and a number of other areas. While the acceptance of these technologies is likely to spread to a variety of sectors, the mining industry is one that wasn’t thought to be an early adopter of these innovations.
However, today saw the world’s largest copper producer, Chile’s Codelco, incorporate artificial intelligence into its mines in order to keep watch over the health of its equipment and to ensure operations operate smoothly.
While it’s a surprising announcement from the South American miner, the move is meant to help upgrade the companies existing mines, with many of them being a century old. Throughout the next ten years, Codelco plans to automate most of the operations of its mining and processing equipment, along with detecting various inefficiencies with AI technologies. The company will be partnering with artificial intelligence solution provider Uptake, which will monitor the mining giants grinding mills, crushers, roasters, pumps, haul trucks, and other machines
“Deploying artificial intelligence will allow Codelco to make best use of our operational data and allow us to reach our goals of boosting mining productivity, reduce costs and maintain safe machine operations through the predictive capabilities of Uptake’s Asset Performance Management software,” said Jaime Rivera, Codelco General Manager in an official statement.
“Codelco is the world’s leader in copper production and we’re pleased to support their digital efforts to make operations and maintenance expenditures more efficient by increasing visibility into the real-time and future health of mining machines,” said Jay Allardyce, Uptake Executive Vice President of Industry, Product and Partnerships. “We are excited to partner with Codelco given their forward-thinking to accelerate not only their operations, but the industry. With their data-first approach coupled with our AI leadership, the transformation impact is outstanding and with leaders like Codelco it sets the tone for what is possible.”
While not an industry that is often associated with AI, the mining industry can benefit in a variety of ways from its implementation. One of these areas is mineral exploration, where AI and machine learning technologies can help mining companies find minerals to extract. For instance, Goldcorp (TSE: G) and IBM Watson announced even as far back as 2017 that there were working together to use AI to review all the geological info available to better find possible gold locations in Canada.
Other potential sources of innovation could come from autonomous vehicles, which could see automatically driven trucks to reduce the companies bottom line in fuel usage alongside being safer to operate. At the same time, mining companies are working to implement “intelligent mines,” where all assets are linked together and capable of making decisions themselves similar to how a futuristic IoT will coordinate between the various household electronics in one’s home for better efficiency. Rio Tinto revealed back in June 2018 that they would be building their own IT-driven mines which are expected to begin producing ore as soon as 2021.
Either way, it seems that sooner or later mining giants will turn to the mass adoption of these technologies for better efficiencies and driving down costs. Considering that many giants in the sector are embarking on multi-billion-dollar mergers as a way to cut down on costs, it makes sense that once they no longer are able to pursue these policies that they will instead focus on what could be a high-tech revolution in the mining industry.