How Mining Technology Has Improved Through The Ages

Technology has evolved tremendously over the past years, revolutionizing almost every industry in its wake. This constant evolution has resulted in streamlined processes with much higher efficiency. Industries that have embraced this change have become successful and are now competent enough to compete in today’s fast-paced environment. 

The mining industry is no exception to this. While this industry has been slower in the acceptance of newer technology, the incredible innovations introduced in the mining industry have the potential to transform the industry’s operations. The mining line of work used to be labor-intensive and somewhat dangerous but has now become much safer and has increased economic viability.  Here’s how mining technology has advanced through the years. 

1. Deposit Tracking 

In the early mining days, potential locations for mining sites were tracked using manual research. This process required not just a large workforce but also a great deal of time. Now, technology has made it possible to track the locations of specific deposits using soil samples, chemicals, and advanced equipment. Even if these deposits are underground, modern technology makes it possible to find traces and track their exact location. This is possible through mobile metal ion geochemistry or MMI. 

2. Modern Heavy Equipment 

Modern machinery has made it possible to streamline the mining processes and reduce the number of workers required for each process. Moreover, the use of machines and modern mining equipment significantly reduces the risk of injury that workers used to be in during manual labor.  Heavy equipment is used to dig, move, excavate, transport, and sort through the mining rubble. The workers are now being trained to regulate and maintain these machines smoothly. They are also being extensively briefed about various essential health and safety processes in mining environments. Modern heavy equipment being used for mining purposes include: 

  • Drills 
  • Crushing Equipment 
  • Feeding equipment 
  • Earth transporters 
  • Cross-belt analyzers 

3. Exploration Drones

Drones have come a long way from how they were developed. They are now being used as explorative surveillance devices used to observe underground mines and mining operations. These drones are designed to withstand impact from any obstacles they might encounter. Exploration drones help overcome several challenges faced in the mining industry. For starters, now a person doesn’t have to go down uncharted caves and mines to chart the way. Furthermore, the unsteady footing is no longer a problem with drone navigation through the caves. 

4. Use Of Geo-Metallurgy 

The use of geo-metallurgy further streamlines the mining process. This stage comes after the material has been mined. Using geo-metallurgical technology, one can estimate how the material needs further processing. This helps the miners save time and makes the whole process much more uncomplicated. 

5. Predictive Maps 

Predictive mapping strategies are currently being developed that may be able to pinpoint mining sites based on other rocks’ locations. This technology would work on logical predictions and the use of artificial intelligence to find out where the nearest similar chemicals could be present. While this technology might not be 100% accurate, it is a much cheaper alternative to deposit tracking. 

6. Self-Driving Carriers 

Self-driving ore carriers use the same automation technology used in other self-navigating vehicles. The best part about this technology is that zero manual control is required to control the carriers. Thus, they can work 24/7, require periodic maintenance, lower the chances of human error, and eliminate people from dangerous environments. These carriers are large-scale because they need to carry a massive amount of rocks and materials. Newer models have radar scanners and lasers installed to better underground navigation. Research is also being done on sustainable battery technologies for these automated vehicles, making them much more economically viable. 

7. Blasting Technologies 

Previous mining technology entailed excavating mines through manual drilling and installation of explosives to blast away the rock and create a path for further mining. However, this method presented a fire hazard, risked the workers’ safety, and could end up destabilizing the entire cave or mine. Modern technology and advancements in explosive technology have resulted in promising micro-explosives that can be used. These explosives are not just automated but also have greater control over the fragment size of the rocks, and thus reducing the time, cost, and energy required for excavation processes. 

The mining industry was considered one of the most dangerous professions for quite a while since they were late to implement modern technologies into their processes. However, it’s better late than never, and now that innovative designs and automation technologies have been incorporated into the mining processes, the whole production has been transformed. Operations are now not just safe but also very cost-effective.