Equipment-related technology investment to grow significantly in Australian mines

Louise Davis

Australian mines are planning to increase investment in equipment-related technology in the next two years, according to the latest survey by Timetric’s Mining Intelligence Center (MIC). 

A substantial share of Australian mines have already invested in environmental monitoring, fleet management and predictive maintenance technologies, with tyre monitoring, collision avoidance and remote control/machine automation to be the key areas for future investment.

Between October and December 2015, Timetric’s MIC surveyed 100 mine managers and other senior decision-makers working across operating mines in Australia. The survey asked respondents to identify, from a set of 12 different mine site technologies, which categories have already been invested in and, whether or not, they would be investing in the next two years. Respondents were asked to consider a wide range of technologies including: fleet management, environmental monitoring, energy management and collision avoidance, as well as UAVs and wearable technologies.

The results show the highest share of respondents (88%) have invested in environmental management technologies, followed by an assembly of technologies focused around the vehicles and mobile equipment on a mine site. Five other technologies in which more than 80% of respondents' have invested are fleet management (85%), predictive maintenance (85%), tyre monitoring (83%), scheduling and shift optimisation (81%) and collision avoidance technologies (80%).

According to Nez Guevara, Senior Analyst at Timetric’s MIC: “The results show the Australian mining industry recognises environmental accountability, social responsibility and commercial success are not inseparable. Monitoring the sustainability of a mine operation covers its entire life cycle, from exploration and feasibility, to decommissioning and closure.”

The next five categories show the priority mining companies have placed on providing cost savings through the improvement of vehicle technologies. Over the coming two years, significant shares of those yet to invest are expected to make investments in tyre monitoring (53% of those yet to invest), collision avoidance and proximity detection (50%), and remote control and machine automation technologies with 48%. In total over the next two years, 92% of mines are expected to have tyre monitoring technology implemented, some 90% will have collision avoidance technologies and 77% will have implemented remote control and machine automation on site.

“The advent of new technology will continue to shape the mining industry. The speed at which companies can adapt to become more efficient is crucial for success in an industry that now maintains a tight grip on capital and operational expenses. This is more of a necessity at present, as low commodity prices affect the industry globally. Improvements in technology can change the way companies view mineral deposits, improve operational safety and manage overall costs,” comments Guevara.

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