Shweta Saxena, CEO of MachineMax, delves into the possibilities offered by intelligent sensor technology, innovative telematics, and data solutions.
The mining industry faces immense challenges and promising prospects, as green technologies fuel an unprecedented call for minerals like copper and lithium.
According to the World Bank, demand for these minerals is expected to rise by over 100 percent by 2050. This trend places the mining industry at the forefront of the green transition while amplifying its environmental responsibilities.
As a sector responsible for almost 10 percent of global carbon emissions, miners are under a moral and regulatory obligation to balance the scales by reducing emissions. One barrier to realising this stems from the inefficient use of heavy equipment on mining sites. The absence of best-practice CO2 benchmarking, facilitated by improved data sharing, is stifling momentum in the drive to achieve lower carbon operations. However, intelligent sensors, telematics, and data solutions can serve as the linchpin for leaping this hurdle.
Crucially, if the mining industry can start to identify a standard baseline, then high-emission areas of inefficiency, like idling hotspots, can be highlighted and addressed.
MAXIMISING THE POWER OF DATA
Data is a valuable commodity in the mining industry, offering vast insights into operational efficiency. Recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have supercharged the power of telematics and data solutions, presenting newfound potential for data. This evolution in telecommunications technology has led to enhanced on-site connectivity, and can now provide real-time data analysis that goes far beyond basic tracking.
Mining professionals can use telematics and data solutions to power automated tracking tools that monitor a wide range of metrics relating to how equipment, such as haul trucks and excavators, is being used, from performance and fuel consumption to operator behaviour. Previously, mining companies would have to manually collate this data in the field at a pace that made proactive interventions impossible. Today, this data offers a gateway to proactively identify issues, minimise unplanned downtime, and enhance overall operational efficiency.
This pre-emptive approach can translate into real actionable improvements to operations, such as reducing idling time and fuel consumption. These aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet, either; they produce a substantial decrease in carbon emissions, aligning with broader sustainability goals. This data-driven strategy can lead to both economic and environmental benefits.
DATA AGGREGATION AND ANALYSIS
While the adoption of telematics is widespread, the real challenge lies in the effective aggregation and analysis of data.
Three quarters of businesses use telematics for fleet management and equipment tracking, however, disparate platforms often dilute the value of the data, making it difficult to derive actionable insights.
This is where cloud-based aggregation comes into play. By consolidating data into a single platform and employing AI-driven analytics, mining firms can access critical information from the field and transform raw data into actionable intelligence.
This unified approach is the missing piece that can drive immediate, impactful change.
BUILDING A SCALABLE ROADMAP
Looking ahead, the industry needs a comprehensive, scalable roadmap to achieve its sustainability goals. Data-driven decision-making is a key stepping stone, providing miners with real-time visibility of equipment availability, performance and maintenance, thereby enabling informed strategic decisions like maintenance scheduling.
Efforts to invest in more sustainable practices are ongoing, but the sector cannot wait for wider access to renewable energy and more energy-efficient field equipment. The immediate priority must be to increase operational efficiency using the tools available to professionals today.
This shift, which needs to happen as a matter of urgency, will not be possible without strategic investment. In the longer term, the introduction of cleaner, alternative energy-powered equipment will help to bolster efforts. Within this journey, transparency and accountability are critical. The sector must realise the true impact of operations on climate change in order to implement robust sustainability reporting.
Only then can accurate carbon auditing mechanisms be put in place to track progress and ensure transparency and stakeholder accountability.
UNLOCKING A GREEN FUTURE
Mining is integral for the transition to a greener future. Telematics and data solutions offer a tangible, immediate and less environmentally destructive pathway.
As we navigate this complex landscape, the adage “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” has never been more relevant.
The net-zero clock is ticking down, but while climate change has never been more pressing, miners have never been in a better position to work more efficiently. In a world demanding more from mining than ever before, it’s not the minerals but the data that will be our most valuable extraction, steering us toward a future where sustainability and profitability coexist.