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Mining can overcome management and tech inertia

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Subject

Productivity in mining.

Significance

Slow productivity gains have plagued mining for years and a curious behavioural paradox lies at the root of this. Mines blessed with high mineral grades have exhibited low productivity while lower grade operations have fared better. Personnel, organisational and systemic challenges were historically addressed by cost-cutting but since commodity markets overheated in 2011, a new approach to incremental productivity improvements is taking hold. Mining is gradually moving from manual operation to digitalised data formation and real-time data sharing.

Impacts

  • In open pit operations, closed cycle autonomous haulage is becoming increasingly common; autonomous light vehicles are also being tested.
  • More autonomous underground haul trucks will be fitted with a double system, laser-guided underground and GPS-enabled on the surface.
  • Tests of continuous oscillating disc cutters for hard rock use are advancing; they are more productive than ‘drill-and-blast’ methods.
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