The mining industry is one of the biggest in Australia, and it looks set to continue this way for several years to come.
As time goes on, every industry involves, and the mining industry is no exception. If we were to look at the mining industry in 100 years from now, what would it look like? Here are some of our predictions for the future of mining in the next century.
To say that automation will become a big part of the mining industry is a safe bet. In fact, it’s safe to say that automation will become more dominant in many industries. As it currently stands, automated vehicles are already used in some mines, which serve to increase efficiency and reduce the likelihood of safety risks for those would otherwise need to drive heavy mining vehicles along treacherous paths – and that’s not taking into account the potentially hazardous materials that can sometimes require transport.
Automated vehicles are still very much in their infancy, but through companies such as Google, a driverless, automated future is looking more and more likely. So add 100 years to this area of mining (and transport, in general), and you have a future that could be defined just as much by automation as it is by the miners themselves.
More efficient excavation
As technology improves, so does the general efficiency of our world. A very basic example is that if you have a new computer, it’s probably going to run and perform more efficiently than you’re older one. Reduced times for programs to load and functions to execute means you can perform your job at a faster and more efficient rate.
In the world of mining, technology redefines the way mining is performed. Better technology can lead to easier discoveries of minerals and other geological materials, and then additional advances in technology can make the excavation process far quicker and less dangerous. Suffice to say, the mining world in 100 years will be a more efficient one.
Heavy mining machinery requires a lot of effort and can certainly be expensive if any of the machinery itself is damaged, so transporting that machinery from A to B without damaging it is undoubtedly important. While transport of heavy machinery does differ depending on the distance that needs to travelled, there has been talk of the possibility of blimps being used to transport them in the future.
While this may seem somewhat left-of-field on the surface, blimps could be a viable solution. They can traverse large distances in relatively short periods of time, they will not require new road infrastructure to be laid down exclusively for heavy machinery transport, they would cause less impact on the environment, and the whole exercise is theoretically more cost effective. While transporting heavy machinery via blimps would require greater investment in the beginning, 100 years could see blimps playing a more integral role in the mining industry.
Of course, for all the advances that could occur, the mining industry could have notable difficulties to overcome. If we look at the mining industry as it is now, it has slowed down from what it used to be. Add to that the fact that many minerals and geological materials are finite in nature, in 100 years’ time there may just not be as much out there to mine. Improvements in identifying and mining materials will give the industry an extra bit of longevity, but things will inevitably have to slow down in one way or another.
The environment will be another big piece of the puzzle, as well. As people become conscious of the way in which their actions and the actions of others impact on what we have, the mining industry will need to be able to acknowledge these issues and find ways of operating with greater efficiency and a lessened impact on nature. Of course, new technologies will undoubtedly go a long way in helping work these issues.