Home > 12 technologies set to transform mining PART TWO

12 technologies set to transform mining PART TWO

Editorial

This is part two of technologies set to transform mining, to read part one click here.


Coming in at number seven in McKinsey's report was next generation genomics, which will enable the 'writing' of DNA.

Number eight is advancements in energy storage techniques.

Energy hungry mining companies are increasingly looking for off-grid power solutions, in an effort to reduce the use of diesel generators, bring down electricity costs and minimise carbon footprints.

Advancements in capture and storage techniques will no doubt go a long way towards  managing energy consumption, costs, supply, and risks.

3D printing could be miners' “batman belt”, a speaker at last month's 3D printing expo in Mackay predicted.

Simon Bartlett, from Melbourne-based manufacturing and prototyping bureauRapidPro, predicted that miners were among those who could benefit from the further development of additive manufacturing technologies.

He said 3D printing machines could solve the problem of needing to have replacement parts sent in to mining sites.

"It's like Batman's utility belt, to get through his day he needs to be able call on a number of different technologies or a number of different tools," he said.

Number 10 on the list was advanced materials which have superior strength or conductivity. This technology is not only set to enhance nanomedicines but also improve energy storage and solar cells.

Improving the longevity of mining machinery is another benefit of advanced materials; the formulation of better engine oils can minimise downtime, whilst stronger parts reduces maintenance costs.

With fuel costs rising and companies focusing on the challenges of reducing C02 emissions, many are heralding the LNG boom as a way to offset the energy issues facing the mining industry.

But with big upfront capital costs, and technological advancements some years away, is LNG ever likely to replace diesel as the predominant fuel source on mine sites?

It is estimated that the LNG boom in Australia is worth $180 billion in planned investments with many predicting the projects will lift Australia from the fourth largest LNG producer to the first, knocking Qatar off its perch.

In Queensland alone three projects currently under construction are expected to generate $45 billion in capital expenditure and produce 28.8 Mtpa of LNG.

With major companies like Shell, Woodside and BP spending billions on LNG projects, it is clear they expect the gas to become not only a major revenue raiser in exports, but to also be used more commonly on Australian soil.

Electricity costs are one of mining's most expensive inputs, minimising usage will improve environmental impacts and soften the blow to a miner's bottom line.

Image source: McKinsey & Company

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