The mining industry is facing a tough decision. A staunchly traditional industry, mining is now at a critical juncture in which it will either adopt new technologies or be left behind. The mining industry was actually one of the first industries alongside defense to adopt automation technology, but since that first step, there has not been much progress.
Over the last few years, the mining industry has faced increasing environmental, social, and resource-based pressure to change the way it operates. As an indirect result of being so set in its ways, widespread automation may be the only way to bring the mining industry up to date.
The mining industry has been dominated by a handful of companies for decades, and these companies are understandably reluctant to change the way they do things.
Just as with other traditional industries like manufacturing and automotive, however, technology is making it much harder to carry on with the same old practices. Smaller, more agile companies that understand the benefits of emerging technologies are beginning to challenge the larger mine operators at their own game.
“Autonomy startups and tier two operators are seeing an opportunity to enter a market they have largely been locked out of,” says Peter Bryant of strategy consultancy firm Clareo. Mining equipment itself has also often been bedded into operations for decades (without interoperability between systems) and as a result “the industry is getting further and further behind today’s technological capabilities,” says Bryant.