For mining companies to be sustainable in the current sluggish conditions, they have no choice but to innovate. It is through innovation that they can be cost effective and offset some of factors that are negatively impacting on their operations. One of the ways they can achieve this is through advanced technological and engineering expertise that can improve productivity, while keeping escalating running costs in check.
In an article industry commentator and writer, Lanette Breitenbach, notes: “Innovation is important for the future of mining, especially in South Africa.
“While the country sits with abundant resources – the richest deposits in the world as per a Citibank report – if these cannot be mined economically (and safely) then it will all come to naught for the mining companies, labour, unions, investors and the country “
“Modernisation is therefore critical, …allowing mining operations to continue profitably well beyond the year 2045, accompanied by widespread industrialisation and competitive manufacturing”.
Forward-thinking OEMs recognise that mechanisation is the future of mining. For instance, crushing equipment manufacturer, Osborne SA, is automating all development, production and operational processes to benefit mining companies in response to marketing trends.
Underlining the significance of mechanisation, with respect to South Africa, Fred Cawood of Wits School of Mining Engineering: “A developing country like South Africa must balance the need for more jobs with the need for more profitable mines. Innovation is key to survival, and sometimes incremental improvement is not enough, e.g. the case of ageing South African gold and platinum mines. “Such mines need to innovate for production effectiveness:
Adds the mining don: “The search for better or improved mining methods is on, and with that, ensuring that equipment operates reliably and predictably in new mining layouts.
Mechanisation, Cawood predicts, will be that difference between survival or collapse for mining companies. “There is absolutely no doubt that the 21st century mine will be technology-intensive.”