All the easy digging has been done. All the richest seams have been mined. All the big discoveries have been made. It’s become something of a cliché in mining to pine for the good ole days of rivers of gold, oceans of diamonds and mountains of copper (as if that ever existed).
But that ignores the enormous technological strides that the mining and exploration industry has made – mostly in the interest of efficiency and cost-cutting, but also for discovery.
Advanced technology is being deployed across the industry. From remote management of mines from 1000s of kms away using autonomous trucks and trains, equipment monitoring every tiny detail of plants and processes in real time, widespread automation and mechanization to sampling, detection, imaging and surveying systems. And drones; did I mention drones.
All of this produces data. Tonnes and tonnes of it. Last month Vancouver-based Goldcorp took a technological leap becoming the first company in the sector to go public about its intentions to harness artificial intelligence to mine all this data.
AI is a buzzword that is bandied about with too much abandon these days and tech firms’ marketing departments often use AI to describe nothing more than fancy software or clever algorithms. Goldcorp is partnering with IBM, one of the pioneers in the field, and the New York-based tech giant prefers to call it cognitive computing.
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