Blog · 14 Dec 2021

3 ways the power of data can transform the mining industry

How can the power of data unlock smarter, safer and more connected mining operations?

Senior manager managed network services, BT

All industries are being impacted by the power of data, but few are faced with as many opportunities – or as many challenges – as the mining industry when it comes to turning data into business-enhancing action.

With its combination of highly stressed machinery, precision operations, potentially dangerous conditions and remote locations, mining companies and their employees worldwide stand to gain great business and personal benefits from advanced communications. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), digital transformation is expected to boost the mining industry’s profit by 9%. That’s nearly 3% of industry revenue, worth more than $320 million.

The key to success is to harness vast amounts of data on operations, customers, suppliers, rivals and markets and turn it quickly into actionable information. Adoption of new smart technology is now critical for the future of the industry, helping organisations to improve their health, safety, and environmental impact by saving lives, reducing injuries, lowering emissions and waste, and increasing transparency and sustainability.

Here are just three areas where the power of data can transform the mining industry: 

1. Ensuring safety in dangerous environments

The performance and safety benefits of fast, efficient and reliable data management is helping to automate some of the mining industry’s most challenging and dangerous tasks. Self-driving vehicles, for example, can operate in impractical or hazardous environments. Automated drilling equipment can save time and manpower, and predictive maintenance can help avoid damage or stoppages. Other sensors can alert personnel to health risks underground or warn operators if faulty equipment or shifting ground threatens a collapse.

According to WEF, digital technology adopted by the mining industry is expected to save 1,000 lives and prevent 44,000 injuries worldwide between 2020 and 2025 – reductions of 10% and 20% respectively.

2. Overcoming challenging locations

In order to target fresh resources, many mining organisations are moving beyond their larger, longer established but increasingly exhausted locations to a growing number of smaller sites. These sites have historically been difficult or impossible to operate economically, so their profitable management requires agile handling of data from diverse sources. They need data to be processed and delivered to key people in near-real-time, typically via headquarters or data processing centres far from the mine. Establishing fully connected mining operations using smart and automated technologies will allow them to access more reliable data in real time and drive better decision making over long distances to those often isolated and hard to get to mine locations.

3. Improving environmental impact

Mining companies today must respond to more than just the need for metals and minerals to support the modern economy. They now face increasing demands from customers, investors, and regulators to match supply achievements with even greater levels of environmental protection, safety, and cost efficiency.

With increasing concerns around the climate, the pressure is higher than ever for the mining industry to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. It’s expected that introducing digital technologies will reduce the mining industry’s CO2 emissions by 610 million tonnes, with an estimated value to society and the environment of some $30 billion.

Introducing MEO mining services

Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) mining services are a game-changing satellite connectivity solution for mining companies that want to improve performance, safety and profitability by exploiting – in near-real-time – the large quantities of data generated by their remote operations. MEO mining services provide direct benefits to their most critical asset: their people, no matter how remotely they may be stationed. They’re high-capacity, robust, dedicated to individual customers and, critically, built on uncontended throughput that is never compromised by any other customer. That combination of low latency performance and guaranteed bandwidth means critical decisions can be made efficiently and reliably.

As mining companies are operating in increasingly remote locations under more and more challenging geological conditions, it’s necessary to deploy innovative equipment and techniques alongside proven, legacy operations. Access to reliable data in real time is more important than ever, and that requirement is only going to become more urgent.

Staying ahead of the ongoing data revolution

At BT, we’ve worked with pioneering satellite communications services provider SES Networks to build a comprehensive range of mining services. These combine the global reach of established and reliable geostationary (GEO) satellites with the low-latency and high throughput of their O3b medium earth orbit (MEO) constellation.

Our MEO mining services deliver the high-performance 24-hour connectivity to the standard that site crews expect today. By investing in the high-throughput satellite communications capability that supports IoT and advanced information management, the mining industry can stay ahead of the ongoing data revolution.

If you’d like to find out more about how our satellite solutions can benefit your mining operations, please get in touch.