Most people know very little about the mining industry, but it is one of the most fascinating sectors from the standpoint of technological innovation. There are many challenges the industry has to address, from safety to productivity and sustainability. Innovation always comes to the forefront to answer these challenges, and we expect to see some impressive new technology in 2019, from bolters to dust monitoring.
Using non-crushable rock bolts to increase crusher productivity
Crushing is a core component of mining operations. It needs to keep working uninterrupted, but this is not always easy to maintain. Unforeseen halts and delays can be incredibly costly for mining companies and can lead to enormous safety concerns. To stop these things from happening, crusher technology needs to eliminate crushable materials as much as possible, and some advancements are expected on this front through 2019. There have already been no less than five new rock bolts, with new geometries and non-metallic materials like PVC or Dyneema ropes, to improve operations.
Automated tunnel reinforcement
The reinforcement of tunnels in mining already has a number of tools and equipment at play. But in tunnels smaller than 4m x 4m, standard machinery is unusable because of space restrictions. Companies have been working on solutions to this issue which are expected to be seen in 2019. They will bore and protect tunnels with a layer of shotcrete, unrolling a metal mesh and installing it on top of the shotcrete before securing it with helical steel bolts. The best solutions for this are being tested in a real mining environment and should be more readily available later in the year.
Dust monitoring with IoT technologies
It is essential to reduce dust in mining operations. Technologies have been in development on this front for industrial environments, but they have tended to be vulnerable to certain conditions, with inflexible set-ups and the need for daily maintenance. But now there have been teams of companies and academics working together to develop solutions for dust monitoring in the mining industry, and some valid solutions in IoT technology have been discovered. They are now in the testing phase but should see the light of day before the year is out.
Innovation for conveyor belt operations
Mining involves handling enormous amounts of land for mineral extraction. After processing, the soil must be transported and stored in usable terrain once again. Conveyor belts usually handle this transporting, but they need to be extremely long and mobile for homogeneous storage. Mining service companies have been seeking solutions to accelerate these transportation belt systems, but they need to do the job correctly. This year expect to see improvements in the conveyor belt processes including tools like GPS and laser technology to improve systems and increase productivity.
The mining industry demands continuous innovation to meet challenges and increase productivity, so you can expect to see lots of technological advances from one year to the next. These are just a few of the advances to expect in 2019, all of which aim to make the mining industry more productive, safer and generally sustainable for the future.