9 Key Technologies in the Underground Mining Industry

The application of technology in the mining industry has consistently improved the productivity and safety of mines across the world. By implementing the latest and greatest advancements in drilling and mining logistics, mines are seeing an improvement in their output. Here are 9 ways that the latest modern underground mining technology is playing a role in the industry today.

1. Robotics

The potential for applying robotics to underground mining is huge. Robots using artificial intelligence are able to complete complicated tasks independently. Mining robots are able to drill the rock, load materials, construct tunnels and even rescue trapped miners.

The speed at which these robots operate is only getting faster. They are able to apply the best artificial intelligence technology to conquer an ever-growing list of tasks.

2. Automated drills

This has been proven to improve the safety of mine workers as they are able to control drill remotely and steer clear of any hazardous environments. Using a video link the operator of the drill is able to control every component of the drill as if they were standing right next to it.

3. Advanced airborne gravity gradiometers

The principle for this technology has been around for a while, the technology itself has now reached a point where changes in material density and magnetic fields can be identified and interpreted so that deposits of minerals can be located.

4. 3D imaging technologies

This has been a revelation in how mines are mapped and analyzed for future exploration. A 3D image of the mine can be created using lasers, then this visual can be given to surveyors, engineers and geologists so that they can examine exactly what is happening in the mine. This can be of great benefit to the productivity of the mine as work will not need to be disrupted by a site visit from this team as they are able to examine the data remotely.

5. Networking

By connecting people and the machines that they use with radio frequency identification devices can help to promote the safety and efficiency of the process. This can have a huge impact on the productivity of the mine as every movement can be tracked and any opportunities for optimization to the whole process can be identified.

6. Automated transport of materials

The hauling of materials recovered from the mines is slowly becoming an automated process. The driverless trucks that are used can transport materials much faster and with greater reliability than regular manned ones.

There have even been automated Caterpillar vehicles in use in mines around the world. This is the start of some very exciting developments that will mean the speed and safety of haulage can be significantly improved over time.

7. Plasma technology

The implementation of plasma technology has been proven to increase the amount of precious metals that can be mined by a huge amount. Using very high temperatures, it is possible to transform the output of a mine significantly.

8. Copper-eating bacteria

This may sound like science fiction but, there is a plan in place to implement bacteria that are able to ingest the minute amounts of copper that are as yet unable to be removed from the surrounding material. The bacteria are then gathered up and the near pure copper extracted.

9. Off-site monitoring

Having a system in place that allows the mine to be monitored from anywhere in the world can be a valuable tool. This means that multiple mines can be looked after by the same team and the need for individual specialists to be located at each mine is reduced.