With more digitally-forward miners, the industry will be on cloud nine
A mine that utilises cloud technology is better placed for safety, sustainability and productivity, according to GlobalData analysis.
Cloud encompasses the provision of IT infrastructure, operating software, middleware and applications hosted within a data centre and accessed by the end-user via the internet. Resources on the cloud can be accessed and coordinated much more easily.
Value from the cloud comes to mining companies both directly from its use as a more sophisticated technological option for existing production and management responsibilities, as well as from the new resources, technologies, and services that can be established on an underlying organisational cloud architecture. Both are significant but the latter is more so.
A cloud-integrated mining company can have stronger data resources, digital technologies, personnel pools, internal operational procedures and cooperation with other parties.
Supporting central objectives
A mine that utilises cloud technology is better placed for safety, sustainability and productivity, three pillars of mining operations. The risk of environmental hazards and personnel health issues can be mitigated.
Cloud-connected sensors can monitor the relevant environmental and health data and cloud-based personnel coordination tools can analyse for risks, whether structural failure, dust, or fatigue and coordinate evacuations, clean-up or scheduling appropriately.
Processes optimised or automated via cloud technology use resources such as energy and water more efficiently, improving the sustainability of a mining operation.
Processes optimised or automated via cloud technology use resources such as energy and water more efficiently, improving the sustainability of a mining operation. Relocating on-site jobs to remote operations centres means that operators can live in cities and participate more fully in their family and social lives. The better transparency, traceability and visibility available with the cloud enables companies to comply with regulations and validate their doing so more easily.
Similarly, cloud-based storage solutions are cheaper and of higher quality than on-site equivalents because major cloud providers have higher scale, expertise and experience. Digital tools such as big data, artificial intelligence, predictive maintenance and many more enhance productivity.
Cloud adoption is fairly mature in the mining industry. However, the possibilities for technologies that depend on the cloud are still expanding, so cloud in mining spending continues to grow fast. Cloud in mining revenues will grow at a combined annual growth rate of 18.8% between 2022, when they were $7.1bn, and 2026, when they will be $14.1bn.
One example is Metso Outotec, which provides equipment and machinery to industrial companies.
Specifically, Metso Outotec used Rescale, a platform that allows customers to access and use high-performance computing in the cloud. Rescale facilitates access to Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and AWS, and Metso Outotec enlisted Rescale for their Rocky DEM simulations. With Rescale and the cloud, it was possible to do many more simulations. Fewer hours were required to complete the work, and costs went down significantly.