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Over the years, the impetus of technological change has skyrocketed due to the sliding and spiraling productivity costs that the mining industry is currently facing. Mining industries have had to face tremendous pressure to ensure that they improve their overall operating efficiencies and enable for much safer operations and cut costs at the same time. With all the underground mining technology changes which are currently taking place plus all the digital innovations and transformations in the mining industry, every aspect of this industry looks like it is being transformed to ensure that it delivers exceptional customer, environmental, and stakeholder value. That being said, here are some of the top five innovations and trends that have greatly impacted the underground mining industry.

1. 3D printing

Mining is an extremely risky and hazardous business and miners are ever faced with hostile situations and work in dangerous environments. Plus, you also find that most of the underground mining equipment is very costly. 3D printing is the process by which you make physical objects from digital models using printers. This method is still in its nascent stage, but the technology has shown a lot of potential to transform the whole maintenance supply chain for the mines by ensuring that mines now have quicker access to a broader range of spare parts. On-site and warehousing storage costs can also stay at a minimum with the spare parts being stored digitally.

2. Drones

The old way of surveying and mapping of the mining environments was very time-consuming, dangerous, and cost-intensive. Technology has come with the development of drones that can now be used to conduct and collect data on aerial surveys of the mining sites and then relay this collected data and geophysical imagery to the surveyors without necessarily interfering with any of the regular operations. Miners can now also identify on-site maintenance needs early enough and take the necessary measures to correct any errors with the machinery before any issue becomes much worse. Drones can also significantly reduce the total time spent on on-site inspections plus enable for safer operations. Miners can also be used the data that is collected to make informed decisions and manage risks, thus, improving the overall bottom line.

3. 3D mapping

Miners can now easily identify underground areas with natural resources and minerals easily with the development of 3D mapping. This process has helped scientists easily highlight some of the most promising areas that are best for the excavation processes. This technique has helped a great deal when it comes to reducing both the operational costs and time that would have, otherwise, been taken searching for these areas manually. Miners can now target drill holes more accurately and zero in on the high-quality ores and take the least amount of time in the process.

4. Simulation modeling

This technique enables miners and mining companies to analyze most of their processes from a virtual setting and also project operational performances using what-if scenarios. This technique has also helped to reduce costs and time that is associated with the actual physical testing.

5. Digital twinning

This is the ability to create more of a digital representation of the physical object and can help to provide relevant data about the health of the object. It helps miners to create digitized versions of the components they plan to excavate, and the data are also updated in real-time using sensors on the physical equipment.

It is evident that technology is making the underground miners’ work a lot easier and safer. And we can’t wait to see what technology has in store for the mining industry in the near future.

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