Trends in Mining Technology

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Some of the major trends in the industry driving equipment and product development are as follows:
§ Safety - There is a big drive from major mining countries like Australia, acknowledged to be the safest mining industry in the world, and USA and Canada, to design safer equipment and solutions in mining applications. The design of equipment is closely evaluated by thorough risk assessment procedures. Examples are the risk of fire, with redesigned engine compartment hydraulics into hot and cold areas, use of fire retardant materials, and automated fire suppression systems.

Examples of equipment solutions in the mining process are the development of hang up and high hang up rigs to clear draw points in block cave mining applications. Prior to the development of this equipment, these hang-ups were cleared by miners exposing themselves to high risks.

§ Environmental - The main environmental issues in mining equipment are noise, dust, oil discharged into the environment, and emissions. Most modern mines employ departments which are responsible for monitoring these issues. Noise emission is closely measured on all new equipment designs, and reduced wherever possible. Emission standards imposed by government authorities require equipment suppliers to continuously upgrade to new engine technology, such as the latest generation Tier 3 engines. All these new engines are electronically controlled, and pose new challenges for maintenance staff.

§ IT Technology - The use of computer systems and software for ore reserve management, mine planning and design, financial systems, and maintenance systems has been with us for a number of decades, and are accepted as most useful tools. In addition the installation of SCADA systems on fixed plant installations, to monitor the status and condition of the individual components, such as crushing and material handlings systems is widely practiced.

There is therefore increasingly available on mines a host of electronic data regarding...
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