7 Mining Industry Trends to Predict the Future of Mining

The future of mining is evolving. With too many mines shutting down and not enough mines opening up as fast as possible, the industry is able to complete some introspection and conduct an autopsy on previous mines. By doing this, some of the world’s largest mining companies can look to the future and adapt to the needs of tomorrow with the latest tools and technologies.

What will a mine in the state of Arizona look like in the next 10, 20, or 30 years? Heck, what will your average silver mine look like next year? Employees using mobile devices to study data attained through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) while drones fly over the mining operations. Is this too far-fetched? Not all. It is only a matter of time before every new mine or relatively new existing mine enters the digital age.

As the mining technology evolves year by year, the future of mining is going through rapid changes. Here are seven mining industry trends to predict the future of mining:

1. Artificial Intelligence in Mining

Freeport McMoRan, one of the world’s largest copper producers, announced that it would be incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning into its North American mining operations.

When the news broke, the stock shot up, suggesting that investors are bullish on these types of developments. Will other companies follow suit in the future of mining? If they wish to compete in this market, they may have no other choice but to fully utilise AI in their new mines.

2. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in Mining

You have probably heard about the Internet of Things (IoT) already. This is when all of your products, from the refrigerator to the garage door, become “smart.” But what about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)? Well, this is one of the biggest developments that will transform the future of mining.

While IIoT is expected to be an expensive investment, it will turn mechanical processes into digital ones. Essentially, it will ensure that mining companies can turn their mines into real-time treasure troves of data. In the future of mining, these firms will then exploit this data to improve safety, expand efficiency, and potentially analyse the volumes of materials.

3. Blockchain in Mining

Blockchain is being used in every sector of the global economy these days. Even businesses are adding blockchain to their names – and it is paying off.

For the mining industry, blockchain is likely to be used more for reining in inflationary costs and recording greater profit margins. Also, blockchain in mining will be crafted for corporate social responsibility. Indeed, since blockchain facilitates sustainability, security, trackability, and transparency, blockchain is another tool to add to monitor operations and verify compliance.

4. Drones in Mining

Freeport McMoRan is, once again, at the forefront of the latest technological integrations. One of its recent additions to its business model has been drone technology. The company is utilising drones for creating steeper slope angles, minimising the stripping ratio, and communicate any information that could be used to improve worker safety.

Ultimately, every miner will incorporate drones into day-to-day operations for its own purpose.

5. Cobalt and Lithium in Mining

The industrial metals of the future? Cobalt and lithium.

Cobalt is used to produce alloys for jet engines, gas turbines, magnetic steel, and stainless steel. The metal is also prevalent in health care since Cobalt-60, a radioactive isotope is used in radiation cancer treatments.

Lithium is ubiquitous in the manufacturing of aircraft and batteries, particularly in electric vehicles (EVs). With EVs expected to balloon across the developed world, you can expect greater demand for lithium.

While there will continue to be incredible demand volumes for gold, silver, copper, and other metals, cobalt and lithium will become huge industries in the future of mining.

6. Industrial Training

The mining sector is sounding the alarm about a skills gap. The industry is reporting that enough people are either interested in working in the field or lack the skills and stamina to be in a mine. The sector is only anticipated to grow, so companies may solve the problem by investing in industrial training programs. Not only will they seek out candidates to hire, but they will also train them on the ins and outs of mines and mining.

7. Social Contracts

To this date, there remains a contentious relationship between mining companies and communities. The locals do not trust the miners and the miners experience too many headaches dealing with the townsfolk, whether they are in middle America or in Chile.

What is in store for the future of mining? Social contracts.

A social contract consists of miners creating benefits for communities situated close to mine sites. In order to obtain a license to operate, miners may need to invest in schools, hire local workers, spend money on improving infrastructure, and guarantee that they will set up a fund to contribute to future issues in the area that may or may not be attributed to the mine’s operations.

The terms and conditions will vary by community and company, but a social contract is a good start.