Rapid advancements in science and technology have enabled high-performance computing, artificial smart calculation, and procurement of detailed geological data. These have presented a major step forward towards developing smart mining or unmanned mining which is typically operated using sensors and automation technologies.
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Workers associated with the mining industry previously encountered frequent accidents and were subjected to unknown territory during mining. Automation technology has reduced physical involvement during mineral extraction, while the implementation of new sensors and technologies has helped predict circumstances around the work face. The technology has helped miners to make proper decisions and modify mining equipment to obtain maximum productivity.
Smart Mining Guidance
Autonomous robotics have benefited the mining industry. Comprehensive digital information on demography, geology, mine conditions, mine safety, coal mine transportation, and integrated automation systems has helped design automated mines.
Smart mining guidance is also based on virtual simulation, spatial information technology, visualization, network integration, cloud technology, and 3D simulation. This type of mining has significantly reduced the number of mine workers and has ensured a safe working environment.
Engineers stated that the construction of a smart mine, based on comprehensive digital guidance, has immensely improved the efficiency of mine production and promoted safe operations. The application of smart information technology has helped make the entire mining system independent with reaction and execution capabilities.
Automation technology and mining guidance via digital platforms and the internet have revolutionized the mining industry.
Smart Guidance via Technologies in Mining Industry
Some of the technological advancements that provide smart guidance in the mining industry are discussed below:
- Mechanized mining face control system: This is an automatic control system that controls the production capacity based on the transportation network load. The consistent communication system in the working front combined with video, voice, and data connect the whole working face effectively and automatically track the work in progress.
- Smart rapid driving system: Smart rock roadway and smart rapid driving can enable unmanned and controlled transportation of coal and minerals.
- Downhole precision positioning navigation system: Guidance from this system helps to collect information such as production, safety, and management required at any place and time. The software is based on a high-precision electronic map and GIS, enabling rapid location identification during an emergency.
- Accurate detection of geological information system: Using laser scanning, a dynamic three-dimensional modeling technique can provide a detailed model of the working face environment.
- Hazard prevention control and smart decision system: This system provides real-time online monitoring of different types of hazards and also provides a quick mitigation solution. This system is associated with the deployment of various sensors that can monitor risks without delay.
- Smart mine ventilation, drainage, and other auxiliary production systems: These systems provide a guarantee for constant and stable working conditions.
- Mine ecological construction smart system: This system is based on green mining technology which aims to reduce the impact of coal or mineral mining on the surface ecological environment. This strategy ensures land reclamation post-surface mining.
- Smart coal mine centralized management system: Development of a centralized management system for smart coal mines, based on cloud computing data center, and centralizing all subsystems of the mine could help guide and regulate the mining operations more effectively.
How has RCT Revolutionized the Mining Company?
RCT is a full-service company that provides complete technical support, skills training, parts supply, safety guidance, and assistance for its proprietary products. It provides wide-ranging interoperable machine solutions that have changed the mining and industrial sectors. Its services help reduce the operational cost and increase profits in a mining project.
RCT operates in 72 countries and has many offices worldwide. The company has 49 years of experience and has revolutionized the mining sector with automation, information, data, and protection systems that are compatible with equipment of any make and model.
RCT’s ControlMaster provides automation to prevent a collision. It offers numerous controls for operative action that enable mining workers to work at a safe distance from hazardous working sites. Automation centers can be installed in various locations such as underground cabins, surface stations, mobile centers, and remote operation centers (ROCs). This is achieved with minimal infrastructure and maintenance, rapid machine setup, and low costs.
The EarthTrack Payload Management is widely applied to surface mining. According to RCT, this technology improves site efficiency by up to 13%. It enables the loader operator to optically fill the truck. By optimizing the payload, the stress on the truck decreases significantly and extends the machine life with limited unplanned downtime. Light vehicle fleet management and monitoring systems also play a vital role in optimizing mining operations and improving safety for mining companies with a decrease in maintenance costs.
Machine Data Gateway (MDG) is an important device that collects and collates a broad range of data to a singular cloud-based data lake. MDG creates its worn mesh network and is applicable in sites where communication between machines and cloud services are broken. MDG ensures that communication is never missed due to a bad network.
Challenges and Future of Smart Mining Technology
The application of automation and smart technology in coal mines is currently still low. Installation of better mining equipment along with the implementation of visualization technology in harsh mining environments is an essential requirement. Optimization in communication technology is also urgently required to ensure safe mining.
In the future, all mines must begin to adopt safe, advanced technologies to ensure productivity is improved at a reduced cost.
References and Further Reading
RCT. (2021) [Online] Available at: https://rct-global.com/industry/surface-mining/
Xu, Y. et al. (2019) Application and Development of Smart Mine in China. MATEC Web of Conferences, 295(3):02005. https://doi.org/10.1051/matecconf/201929502005
Wang, J. and Huang, Z. (2017) The Recent Technological Development of Intelligent Mining in China. Engineering. pp. 439-444. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ENG.2017.04.003