As a major industry in Australia, mining is unlikely to vanish any time soon.
But what is certain is that mining won’t stay the same forever. With new technology, each one could have a pronounced influence on what mining becomes. In today’s article, we take a look at three types of technology that could redefine the mining industry in the not-too-distant future.
1. Advanced robotics
While it may sound more like science fiction, the truth is that we’re getting closer and closer to a reality where robotics will become so advanced that not only will certain forms of automation become more common, but so will the ability for people to repair limbs and other body parts that can’t be today.
We’ve already seen this in the form of bionic arms and even the earlier stages of bionic eyes that, if funding continues, will allow people will certain vision impairments (including total blindness) to see again. This technology will reduce the number of people suffering permanent disabilities and, in turn, will increase the number of people who can return to work. The more advances these forms of robotics (both in a bionic and standalone form) take, the more efficient and workforce driven mining areas could become.
Automation is set to become a massive part of the mining industry. A select set of automated heavy haulage vehicles already operate within Australia and other areas of the world, and as time goes on, the automation will become more advanced. Google is investing a large amount of resources in developing driverless cars to make the roads safer (any accidents that have involved Google’s driverless cars have been due to human error), and the same will likely happen with mining.
Automation isn’t necessarily a product of wanting to reduce the number of human miners, either. For one, automation can be used when transporting hazardous materials so that if an accident does occur, no human lives will be at risk. By having vehicles move themselves, it also frees up miners to continue their work at the actual mines. This will, in turn, reduce the strain on numbers in the mining environment.
It’s hard to say whether this could ever take off, but discussion has mounted regarding the possibility of Zeppelins being used to transport heavy machinery to and from mining areas. Interest is mounting in Canada for such technology to be trialed, as transporting such heavy machinery via a Zeppelin (blimp) could prove faster, safer and more cost effective than road-based transport where various factors such as road conditions, unforeseen breakdowns and weather can all prolong the transport process. There’s no guarantee such technology could be embraced, but if it is, Zeppelins could redefine how mining machinery and items are transported in Australia and across several countries in the world.
What other pieces of technology do you think could redefine mining as we know it? Share them with us in the comments below.