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Connectivity is Central to Developing Successful Smart Mining Practices
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The focus of this study is to understand the smart mining practices in Sub-Saharan Africa. The objective is to understand mining companies’ readiness to introduce advanced technology within the mining processes.
The study starts off by analyzing the smart mining practices globally, more specifically amongst the developed countries where the consolidation phase in the mining sector demands different approaches to sustain growth. Automation, process control, and connectivity solutions appear to enjoy the highest uptake; future significant potential exists for increased penetration of drones, advanced analytics, AI, and cyber security. The study also highlights the current economic situation in Sub-Saharan African countries and the impact it has on the mining sector as well as the overall economy. The mining sector in Sub-Saharan Africa has not developed to the extent of embracing advanced technologies. IT Solutions are needed across the entire Mining Value Chain with the focus being around open cast, underground mining, and ore handling.
Furthermore, volatile economic growth and declining business confidence indicate higher uncertainty about the future. This will further increase the appeal of OPEX models relative to bulky CAPEX investments. The Mining sector is capital intensive industry, and with uncertain economic growth and potential interest rate increases, businesses are less likely to commit to large capital expenditure.
Gold and diamonds are the most profitable mineral exports in Africa. The continent can produce up to 500 tons of gold per year and accounts for a large share of the world’s diamonds. Modernisation could also extend the life expectancy of mines beyond 2042. In South Africa, a total of 496 Mt of the 592 Mt gold resources still available can be mined with mechanised processes, which is equivalent to 11 large gold mines.
The main finding of the study is that connectivity reach to the mining sites is the key element to drive technological adoption within open pit and underground mines in Sub-Saharan Africa. The mining companies’ goal with technology is to create interconnected operations while building processes that enable data driven decision making for efficient and to develop sustainable ways of extracting value from minerals.
Key Issues Addressed
Author: Naila Govan-Vassen
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