Digital innovation is a way to pull the levers of mining in an entirely new way – offering integration, speed and re-invention, writes the director for CSIRO Mineral Resources, JONATHAN LAW.
Real-time sensing, data integration and interrogation, interoperability, artificial intelligence and automation are all buzzwords that battle for traction in today’s mining industry.
That’s hardly surprising because digital innovation provides many ways to focus on the challenges facing the industry today through:
- Integration – the ability to optimise across the value chain and choose the scale and selectivity of operations;
- Speed – the ability to make decisions quickly and hence impact on operational performance in near real time; and
- Re-invention – the ability to consider technology options outside of the traditional mining constructs.
A key part of this digital transformation is the ability to provide accurate, relevant and useful data on resources and mining. With a deep understanding of the value of data to the minerals value chain, CSIRO is focussed on delivering new data technologies in a way that maximises impact at the operational level.
As explored in this edition of resourceful, the latest sensors and data technologies are bringing a new level of knowledge to underpin triple bottom line decision-making.
Our latest sensors and data technologies
Lab-at-Rig brings mineral analysis to the exploration drill site – enabling million dollar decisions to be made in minutes. Meanwhile, advanced magnetic resonance technology is enabling bulk ore sorting on a conveyor for copper and iron miners, offering a step change in productivity.
The benefits of real-time analysis also flow downstream, with a new on-line analyser for gold processing plants that allow value to be recovered from waste.
While new data grows exponentially as a result of these technologies, our focus is on how to analyse it to enable precise predictions and models.
Breakthroughs are being made, such as our new software tool, Rosetta, which demonstrates how analytical data can be pulled from a range of sources to predict ore quality and build a more complete picture to plan where to mine and manage downstream processes.
Importantly though, it’s not just the operational side of mining that will benefit from new data technologies.
Measuring social performance
CSIRO’s new Reflexivity solution is collecting and analysing rich data to provide companies with social performance insights over space and time, in a way that’s not been achieved before for resources companies. This breakthrough development is changing the way that companies, like Rio Tinto, engage with the communities in which they operate to build greater trust.
While these breakthroughs are benefiting the industry today, to realise the full value of the digital revolution – that is integration, speed and re-invention – we have to look at how each different technology comes together to form a solution for the industry’s complex challenges.
Industry, government and the research sector need to come together to clearly articulate what the solutions are, so that we can map a clear pathway towards developing and integrating all the required technologies.