The mine of the future: data gathering is key

Global mining companies are shifting to cleaner, safer and more sustainable operations.

They are increasingly using the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Big Data to control, monitor and manage assets and processes as they transition their energy mix and focus more on renewables. The industry will be mining more copper for use in wind and solar power generation as well as in electric cars, which also require significant quantities of tin. Precious minerals such as platinum and palladium will also be mined extensively for use in fuel cells. Extraction of lithium, cobalt and aluminum will also increase as they are utilized to power renewable energy.

With a wide range of integrated automation and electrification technologies, ABB is well-positioned to help mines switch to sustainable manufacturing and meet growing demand across the world. Our extensive mining portfolio is backed by the ABB AbilityTM digital platform, which has enormous potential to increase the useful life of mines by improving cost efficiency, ore recovery and asset management. ABB Ability™-tailored solutions will drive customer value in each business while capturing synergies through a common platform.

Digital in focus

Industry 4.0 technologies will facilitate digital transformation for the mining industry, which is embracing the evolving energy mix. It is crucial for mining companies to have a solid digital strategy in place to ensure well-informed decision-making that will help them maximize energy usage, productivity, reliability and safety, while minimizing outages, emissions and costs.

ABB’s highly skilled engineers and state-of-the-art digital solutions, such as ABB Ability™ Ventilation Optimizer improves mine performance and worker safety by using a series of sensors throughout the mine that transmit real-time information on air quality, diesel-vehicle use and personnel to the control system operator for analysis, helping to boost energy savings by up to 50 percent, which in turn lowers carbon footprint.

ABB Ability™ Operation Management System (OMS) integrates information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT), enabling predictive production scheduling, automated execution and swift reaction to disturbances. Additionally, it allows mine operators to run “what-if” scenarios, resulting in better decision-making, higher productivity and optimized performance.

We have advanced ABB Ability™-based data analysis tools that are powered by Microsoft Azure to detect problems in mining equipment, systems and processes. Our diverse team of experts provides remote diagnostic services and solutions from control centers across the world. Mine operators gain an in-depth understanding of ore variability, which results in increased ore recovery and higher equipment utilization.

Innovation and collaboration

ABB’s Mining team, which is experienced in both IT and OT, is fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration to empower our customers with best-in-class digital systems and solutions, that drive efficiency, sustainability and profitability for mining operations globally.

Additionally, ABB offers best-in-class and integrated automation and electrification products under the ABB Ability™ MineOptimize portfolio, as well as robotics, AI and machine learning to implement comprehensive solutions for mining customers and drive development toward a sustainable society.

In Europe, for example, ABB robots have been used for emulsion charging of drilled holes in underground, as part of the Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems project (SIMS) with the Swedish mining company Boliden, to increase safety and quality in the blasts.

Data is key for the mine of the future to oversee critical processes. The workforce will be situated remotely at operations centers, analyzing data and converting it into actionable information.

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About the author

Kari Korpinen

Regional Sales Manager, Europe, Mining, Aluminium and Cement Industries, ABB. Leading the vision for process automation engineering and large project sales in the mining, cement, and aluminium industries, Kari Korpinen has worked with customers for over 30 years and brings in extensive knowledge. He started his career at ABB in 1985 as a project engineer and has held various positions in engineering, product management, and sales. His international experience in large electrical and automation projects comes primarily from the mining and mineral processing industries.
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