Digitization of the mining sector: major challenges and drivers 

June 1, 2022

By Orlando Ramirez, Founder & CEO of Stockholm Precision Tools AB

Visit Stockholm Precision Tools AB on PDAC2022 at Booth 905 in the South Hall

  • 44% of companies in the sector are looking to increase their investment in digitization in the coming years  
  • In 2021 SPT launched SmartCloud™ which allows the mining industry to synchronize its mining project data directly in the cloud

The importance of the mining industry is undeniable. It supports approximately 45% of the world’s economic activities, making it a fundamental cornerstone of multiple, critical, global production and supply chains. 

In fact, if you think about it, most of the technological devices we use in our daily lives require materials that come from a mine. It is indisputable that mining is necessary to continue life as we know it today. 

Data reflects the magnitude of this sector and supports the above statement: according to Statista, USD 69 billion was invested in this industry in 2019. 

Probably invisible to the general public, but obvious to those of us in the industry, it is hard to deny that even mining is immersed in a process of digital transformation. 

So, although many of us may have heard of this concept, an explanation is necessary. Well, digitization can be defined as the convergence of the real world with the virtual world. Applied to mining, this means transforming analog processes and physical models into digital ones. 

The benefits of digitization are so remarkable that 82% of the mining industry is intending to increase its investments in digital technology in the coming years. 

But all this is not a novelty, it is a process that has been going on for years. Since 2010, 25% of mining companies have doubled their investments in technology and 93% are satisfied with the results. In fact, 90% of mining companies believe that complementing their operations with technology is creating added value and helping to revolutionize their business. 

Objectives of digital transformation 

This is a gradual process, so there is still a long way to go before mines are 100% digitized. However, there are major motivations for achieving this goal. 

The first is to improve productivity and optimize time and processes. An example of this is the implementation of autonomous transport, in which 24-hour operations can be carried out with greater safety. So much so that the digitization of the mining sector is helping to reduce the accident rate by more than 20%. 

Furthermore, although one might think that this process requires large capital investments, the reality is that it results in lower costs in the long run. 

In energy consumption alone, savings of between 5 and 15% per year can be achieved with new technology. Similarly, logistics costs can be reduced by 5 to 10% and equipment availability can be increased by 2%. 

Innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) could save the industry an estimated USD 373 billion by 2025 by automating the operation of machinery, facilitating predictive maintenance, improving traceability, harnessing the power of real-time data and analytics, and providing visibility across the entire value chain from mine to market. 

the effects of digitization on the mining industry

This process also has its challenges 

Digitization is a challenge that must be accepted in order to adapt to the new market. But there are certain factors that help or hinder this transformation. 

First, there is the environmental issue. It is well-known that there is a growing concern on the part of society and companies to be responsible and sustainable. 

For this reason, mining is changing its processes towards greener and more sustainable ones. As a result, various technologies have been developed in this area, such as those used in water optimization, dust management, reduction of energy consumption or blasting processes, and of course, separation processes. The aim is to achieve a more environmentally friendly mining industry. 

Another major challenge is the profile of the new miner. Digitization implies a modernization and transformation of capital goods, but also of the personnel, who must transform to adopt new skills in line with market changes. 

This implies a transition towards a more modern and digital model of the profession, capable of attracting new talent to the sector and revitalizing it with new ways of thinking and understanding the industry. A candidate profile with knowledge of automation, digitization and interoperability is in demand. 

At SPT we are committed to the digitization of processes. 

At Stockholm Precision Tools (SPT) we are fully aware of the need for digitization in the sector, so the entire company is immersed in a process of transformation. 

Thanks to the state-of-the-art technology of our tools, we not only guarantee the highest precision but also maximize operator safety. 

Proof of the importance we place on technology at SPT is that we pioneered the introduction of Bluetooth in our tools more than a decade ago. This technology enables wireless communication between devices, thereby transforming operations through the simplicity of operation and security of data. 

Similarly, in 2021 we launched one of our latest innovations: SPT SmartCloud™, which allows for the management and storage of survey data from our tools, allowing our customers to have at their disposal, rapidly and accessibly, all their drilling-related data. It also allows validation of quality control data and instant export of QA/QC reports in the most used formats in the industry. 

Stockholm Precision Tools is committed to the digitization of mining projects. We have seen first-hand how this investment in digital solutions has improved profitability, reduced accidents and helped minimize the environmental impact of our customers’ operations. 

If you are interested in learning more about how we can help your company go digital, contact us today for a free on-site demonstration of our solutions. 

Learn more about SPT SmartCloud™ here