The Surging Wave of Mining Automation: 2019-2025
Smart mining is the dominant trend in the age of automation popularly known as Industry 4.0, and projections for the global mining automation market for the period 2019-2025 are revealing that the wave in the mining industry is just building. According to a Zion Market Research report published on May 20, 2019, the 3.65 billion dollar market of 2018 is expected to surge significantly by 2025, with a CAGR of 7.25% culminating in a $6.18 billion market by 2025.
The mining automation market is experiencing significant R&D investment by mining enterprises to improve worker safety, especially in underground operations. The increased deployment of drones and automated devices designed for performing hazardous jobs in high-risk scenarios with minimum human intervention is the primary driver of the mining automation market, and Big Data is transforming mineral exploration in a big way. In Canada, autonomous haulers are moving oil sands for crude oil processing, and mining for metals to meet increasing industrial demands for lead, copper, zinc, and nickel is driving automation for exploration across all of North America.
In today's digital "smart mining" age, it's becoming the mining industry's best safety practice to send in the drones and robots where human miners could be in harm's way. But surprisingly, these practical field applications only make up ⅓ of the mining automation sector.
The other 2/3 of the booming mining automation market is comprised of software and communication technology and that's where GIS comes in, bringing with it some lucrative career opportunities for forward-thinking professionals in the mining sector.
GIS: Geographic Information Systems Applications
Professionals with GIS expertise can find career paths in the mining industry, oil and gas, and even broader pursuits such as archeology, civil engineering, environmental sciences, agriculture, and 1000 more applications, according to GISGeography.com.
GIS focuses on spatial data and analysis, providing a comprehensive digital solution for analyzing assets and characteristics spread over large geographical areas. When combined with machine learning, the applications for GIS are almost limitless. The broad spectrum of GIS applications includes novel and varied pursuits ranging from earthquake prediction, urban planning, analyzing pedestrian traffic, and tracking the progress of invasive species, all of which are topics posted at the GIS Lounge Archives.
GIS in the Mining Industry
GIS can play a role in every phase of the mining operation from the initial mineral resources discovery to mine recovery and replenishment after resources have been depleted. GIS provides 3D visualization and integrates crucial mining safety tools such as ZigBee and ArcGIS to monitor tunnels for temperature, humidity, gas concentration, and dust accumulation data provided by strategically distributed sensors. Emergency evacuation routes can be simulated and tested to optimize evacuation planning for various levels of the mine.
Surrounding regions above old mines can be monitored to predict where subsidence may occur, using multivariate progression models which incorporate multiple datasets to avoid sinkholes including:
- Underlying geological conditions
- Elevation variables
The Growing Demand For GIS Professionals
As optimistic as the Zion Market Research report is, it does cite a significant obstacle to the booming mining automation market's development stating cautiously that "the lack of skilled labor in operating the highly efficient [GIS] equipment may put a hindrance on this market's development in the upcoming years."
As is so often the case in the age of digital transformation, rapidly advancing GIS technology is outpacing the technical workforce. Engineering professionals with a firm foundation in cartography, database management, and spatial analysis will always be in demand in the burgeoning GIS sector. Freely available software and resources are available for professionals seeking to add GIS expertise to take their careers to the next level throughout the next decade.
At Resource Erectors, we are the North American mining industry's go-to resource when it comes to finding the top professional talent in engineering, safety, sales, and operations management. Whether you're building your company's next dream team or making a strategic move up the career ladder, please don't hesitate to contact us.