Resource Erectors Tech Update 2021 Part One
“The influence of technology on the future of mining has vast potential. With the adoption of deep technology such as data analytics, robotics, automation and artificial intelligence, mining companies can start to develop new ways of extracting minerals in remote locations, improve health and safety practices, and drive the transition to renewable energy.” – Kevin Pietersen, Partner at Hogan Lovells at Mining Weekly
Long-time readers of our industry and innovation blog here at Resource Erectors are well aware of the immense pressures on heavy industries such as mining and manufacturing to embrace the 21st Century technologies listed above.
If that pressure isn’t coming from the global green movement then it’s rightly coming from the organization’s own stakeholders. Concern from the c-suite that competitors are gaining an edge over them by “embracing technology” that their companies aren’t is driving demand for the best and brightest engineers who can deploy:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Big Data
And the mining industry isn’t the only industrial sector seeking to attract these human resource gems. So the FAQ to be answered from the HR point of view is:
“What does a career in 21st Century mining have to offer to the best-qualified engineers who have multiple lucrative career paths available to them in a broad variety of aggressively competing industries across the board?”
With that in mind, we decided to check on the current state-of-the-art of the specific technology sectors above as applied by the top-ranking major players in the global mining industry…and one of our favorite but enigmatic billionaires who would like to be included in those ranks.
Elon Musk’s Engineering Recruiting Dance at Tesla AI Day
When industry-leading mining, manufacturing, and civil construction companies look to Resource Erectors for specialized heavy industry human resource expertise, we don’t trot out a weirdly prancing mime complete with soundtrack music from “The Matrix”. But that was the unorthodox recruiting technique that Tesla’s Elon Musk deployed at his recent “Tesla AI Day” in his attempt to attract the best engineering candidates in the ultra-competitive 2021 job market.
But we’ve got to admire his showmanship. It was a day of “classic Elon”.
The rather bizarre Tesla robot “rollout” was all part of Tesla’s effort to recruit the top of the crop in arguably the most innovative and challenging engineering fields, by using a human actor posing as the prototype humanoid Tesla robot that hasn’t even been built yet. And even if a genuine humanoid bot is perfected soon, it wouldn’t be much help for Musk’s mining ambitions via his other company, SpaceX.
Why are Musk and other speculators looking to the stars to solve earthly battery metal demand?
“Rare earth metals are also potential targets of asteroid miners intending to service Earth markets. Consisting of 17 elements, including lanthanum, neodymium, and yttrium, these critical materials (most of which are today mined in China at great environmental cost) are required for electronics. And they loom as bottlenecks in making the transition from fossil fuels to renewables backed up by battery storage.” Mining in Space is Coming-Milken Institute
While Elon and others with their heads in the clouds look to robotic mining of the asteroids in the future, we’ll stay down to earth and in the present. The top performers of the mining industry are preparing to deal with explosive global demand for Rare Earth Elements (REE) that is expected to continue increasing by at least 10% year-over-year throughout the current decade. That’s a very conservative projection based on recent REE market performance.
As we’ve mentioned, Tesla won’t be the only company in need of the best and brightest engineers to man the advanced technology matrix of the near future in the mining industry. And if dancing robot impersonators can’t attract the top qualified engineering candidates, Elon can always call in the recruiting experts at Resource Erectors to fill those costly critical vacancies in his companies.
Now let’s move on from Elon’s characteristic Big Ideas and dig into some Big Data scenarios for the mining industry and the increase of new opportunities that are opening up in the field.
“Big data is an area which has seen rapid growth across a variety of industries in recent years – not least among mining industry operations and technologies companies. Figures show that the number of new big data roles being advertised for these companies has increased in recent months – with firms across the industry looking to expand their capabilities. The number of newly advertised roles stood at 361 in Q1 2021.”- July 13 Report at miningtechnology.com
Big Data in Mining
“In a recent survey that included 10 of the Top 20 global mining companies, the Mining Journal said that Big Data Analytics would spur the next wave of efficiency gains in ore extraction, analysis, transportation and processing by enabling faster and better informed decisions at all levels.” – Application of Big Data Solutions to Mining Analytics
In highly competitive markets operational intelligence relies on IoT sensors embedded in mining operations. We began to see the advantages of real-time collection of data throughout these operations from extraction to final transportation of ore with 4G-LTE (4th Generation Long Term Evolution). But if 3G was good, 4G was better, and 5G is best. The leap forward from 4G to 5G has been described as “the difference between night and day”.
With the long-anticipated Fifth Generation 5G mobile technology roll out, the troublesome latency glitches of 4G are resolved and realtime delays are down to the millisecond. The ability to handle input from vast amounts of data coming from up to 1,000,000 devices/sq km, can be used to boost operational excellence even further in areas including:
- Fleet Management Systems– With a single millisecond delay in reaction time autonomous trucks and excavators can operate safely and at peak efficiency 24/7/365. Big Data on fuel consumption, mileage, tires and parts wear and tear can be used to eliminate waste in dispatch and hauling operations. Realtime alerts convert preventative maintenance to cost-efficient predictive maintenance by ensuring that repair parts aren’t wasted on premature maintenance and major asset life cycles are extended to eliminate expensive failures.
- SCADA or DCS (distributed control systems)- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems for remote operations can ensure that the most qualified engineers are in comprehensive control of mining operations even when the local talent pool can’t provide the expertise required for maximum productivity. With 5G reliability, expert engineers won’t be required to travel to the remotest mining sites. Realtime monitoring and control can literally be “phoned in”.
So where is all this valuable optimizing Big Data coming from? Let’s take a look at some of the hardware that enables all of the above, and where it’s deployed in mining operations.
IoT Sensors for Mining Operations
Advanced IoT sensors deployed throughout mining operations are the key to optimizing performance with Big Data. We checked out Mining Telecoms Australia to see what they have to offer to mining companies in the market for turnkey mining IoT solutions.
- Conveyor Belt Functional Status- Monitor temperature, vibration, pressure, noise, rotation, and component condition changes.
- Hauling Load Statistics – Including load times, frequency of loading, and weights for insights and analysis.
- Mine Production- Enhance the decision-making process by monitoring productivity of daily operations.
- Remote Water Readings and Emissions– Safety and maintaining a sustainable environment are high priorities. Sensors can control threshold limit valves, realtime monitoring of emissions, and groundwater level alerts.
- Employee Management and Safety- Sensors track air quality and individual employee RFID tracking ensures that personnel can be authorized, monitored, and managed to maintain the highest safety standards throughout the workplace.
- IoT automated maintenance scheduling
And of course, the bottom line for any competitive mining player is the cost-effectiveness of all of the above “for saving millions on mine operations in just 2 years “ as summed up by Mining Telecoms;
“With mine downtimes reduced by automatic IoT scheduling, maintenance is controlled, saving potentially millions of dollars. Resource tracking, and infrastructure monitoring has also resulted in equipment with higher production rates which results in larger enterprise profits.”
We’ll be following up this article with Resource Erectors Tech Update 2021 Part Two where we’ll get up to speed on Robotics in Mining and underground robots that can go where no human miner has gone before.
About Resource Erectors
Mining for human resources can be as challenging as unearthing rare earth elements in today’s ultra-competitive industrial job markets. Filling critical positions and avoiding the high costs of vacancies in your organization requires industry-specific expertise and the decades of successful recruiting and placement experience that Resource Erectors brings to the HR table.
We recruit and place only the best-qualified professionals with the industry-leading companies seeking their experience and talents in mining, tunneling, civil engineering, construction materials, aggregates, the concrete industry, and more.
Whether you’re building your company’s next dream team or you’re a highly qualified professional ready to make a lucrative move up the career ladder don’t hesitate to contact Resource Erectors so we can all get to work.