The Industrial Internet, and How It's Revolutionizing Mining
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The Industrial Internet, and How It’s Revolutionizing Mining

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How the Industrial Internet is Revolutionizing the Mining Industry

The Industrial Internet and How It Is Revolutionizing Mining

Today’s infographic was done in conjunction with GE Digital

The Industrial Internet is the convergence of the global industrial sector with big data and the internet of things.

Big Data: New insight to make decisions in real-time is made possible by combining the ability to process and make sense of large amounts of data with a universally standard industrial platform.

Internet of Things: By 2020, 50 billion devices will be connected to the web. Many of these will be sensors, which can now be produced at a lower cost, creating new levels of network connectivity between machines and people.

The result of this convergence will be up to a $15 trillion increase in global GDP over the next 20 years stemming from smarter decisions, optimized performance, higher productivity, and substantial savings in fuel and energy.

How the Industrial Internet works

The Industrial Internet encompasses vast amounts of the complex physical machinery and processes that make our world work. It costs trillions of dollars each year to run these intensive systems. That’s why improving efficiency by just 1% can create millions in cost savings.

For example: the combined operating expenditures for the Top 40 miners in 2014 were $531 billion. 1% of that is $5.3 billion in potential savings.

Examples of the Industrial Internet in motion:

  • Predictive analytics warn airline operators of potential engine failures before they occur, saving millions by avoiding downtime and flight delays
  • Driverless haul trucks will soon be the new norm for miners around the world. These robots are more efficient, and are controlled remotely from hundreds of miles away.
  • Drivers and engineers can get real-time reporting on a train as it is in transit. Analytics calculate engine temperature, fuel efficiency, speed, weight, and vibration patterns. The location is tracked to optimize the efficiency of the entire system.
  • By consolidating all the mill asset and process information in a common platform, a mining production manager can see the whole picture. As a result, she knows where the team needs to focus to maximize throughput, recoveries, and quality.

When Hardware Meets Software

The revolution in data analytics and connectivity is changing how people work with heavy-duty machines around the globe, and mining is no exception.

Major mining companies have all started to incorporate big data into operations through the industrial cloud. This allows them to avoid unplanned downtime, to act in the best interest of shareholders by converting insights into outcomes, and to use the best available technology.

Using predictive analytics and process optimization, the industrial internet can save miners millions of dollars each year.

Here are just some examples of the minimum potential savings from a given asset per year using predictive analytics:

  • Crusher: $119,000
  • Pump: $62,000
  • Mill: $312,000
  • Haul truck: $62,000

Here are just some examples of the minimum potential savings gained per year by optimizing entire processes:

  • Flotation: $1.6 million
  • Grinding: $0.7 million
  • Surge: $0.2 million
  • 50 PID Loops: $1.5 million

Case Study

The senior metallurgist of a platinum mining company had a problem: the milling circuits were processing more and more waste material together with ore from the main reefs, causing significant operational issues. Even though the different sources were blended, the characteristics of the ore being fed to the mill changed dramatically, often in the space of minutes. This led to extreme variability in the circuit.

The Challenge: The company believed that it was losing potential revenue as a result of sub-optimal throughput and efficiency in the milling circuits.

The Action: Implemented GE’s Mine Performance solution for process optimization on one of the milling circuits, to stabilize the circuit and optimize throughput.

The Results:

  • Increased average throughput by more than 5.5%
  • Decreased power consumption per ton of material fed by almost 2%
  • Decreased density variation of the cyclone feed

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Showcasing the Strength of Canadian Gold Mining

Canadian gold mining has grown to become a highly prolific industry, thanks to its geological riches and political stability.

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Showcasing the Strength of Canadian Gold Mining

Gold mining has long played an integral role in shaping Canada’s cities and its modern day economy. The gold mining infrastructure that was built alongside the country’s towns in the 19th century has grown to provide $21.6 billion worth of exports for Canada in 2020.

When combined with the country’s superb geology, Canada’s jurisdictional strengths make it one of the most prolific and secure locations in the world for mining companies to explore, develop, and produce gold.

This infographic sponsored by Clarity Gold dives into how Canada has grown into a nation built for gold mining. Both in how the country facilitates the production of gold, and how the gold mining industry supports Canada’s economy and local communities.

Canada’s Golden Geology and Production

Gold is scattered across the Canadian landscape in a variety of gold mining regions and districts, with the most prolific located between Ontario and Québec.

The 2 billion year-old Archean greenstone belt that arcs through the centre of the Canadian shield provides the foundation for the Abitibi gold belt, which has produced more than 190Moz of gold.

Gold Mining District/RegionProvinces/TerritoriesGold Produced (million troy ounces)
Abitibi Greenstone BeltOntario and Québec>190Moz
Trans-Hudson CorridorSaskatchewan and Manitoba>40Moz
Red LakeOntario>30Moz
Golden TriangleBritish Columbia>5Moz

Source: Resource World

The Trans-Hudson corridor in Saskatchewan and Manitoba has produced more than 40Moz of gold, while the Red Lake mining district of eastern Ontario and the Golden Triangle in British Columbia have delivered >30Moz and >5Moz respectively.

Last year, Canada’s top 10 mines produced 3.26 million ounces of gold combined, equating to more than $6 billion worth of the yellow precious metal.

MineProvince/TerritoryPrimary Owner/Operator2020 Gold Production (thousand troy ounces)
Canadian MalarticQuébecYamana/Agnico Eagle569Koz
Detour LakeOntarioKirkland Lake517Koz
LaRonde (incl. LZ5)QuébecAgnico Eagle350Koz
BrucejackBritish ColumbiaPretium348Koz
PorcupineOntarioNewmont319Koz
MeliadineNunavutAgnico Eagle312Koz
Rainy RiverOntarioNew Gold229Koz
HemloOntarioBarrick Gold223Koz
MeadowbankNunavutAgnico Eagle209Koz
MacassaOntarioKirkland Lake183Koz

Source: Kitco

Ontario and Québec are the powerhouse provinces of Canadian gold production, hosting 30 mines between the two provinces.

A Nation Built for Gold Mining

Canada’s politically secure nature and established permitting process has resulted in five of the 10 largest gold mining companies having projects in Canada. Three Canadian provinces (Saskatchewan, Québec, and Newfoundland & Labrador) are among the world’s 10 most attractive mining investment jurisdictions according to the Fraser Institute’s 2020 survey of mining companies.

Beyond the legal and permitting strengths of the nation, Canada’s extensive network of capital markets has enabled the Canadian companies to dominate the world’s gold mining industry. With Agnico Eagle and Kirkland Lake’s upcoming merger, three of the world’s top five gold mining companies will be headquartered in Canada.

The Canadian equity markets are a key driver of the world’s gold exploration and development funding, with the TSX having raised $7.5 billion in mining equity capital in 2020. Gold still remains the major driver of these money flows, with gold mining companies making up more than half of Canada’s mining exploration budget.

How Gold Mining Gives Back to Canada

Ever since the first discoveries of gold across Canada in the 1800s, the development and production of gold mines has been the foundation for many towns and merchants across the nation.

Today, Canada’s mining industry directly employs more than 392,000 Canadians, with the sector offering the highest average annual industrial rate of pay in the country at $123,000. The industry is also proportionally the largest private sector employer of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

From the nation’s prolific gold deposits to its network of funding through robust public markets for mining equities, gold mining has grown into one of Canada’s most important strengths. The discovery, development, and production of the precious metal will remain an essential pillar of Canada’s economy.

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Visualizing the Global Silver Supply Chain

Nearly 50% of global silver production comes from South and Central America. Here’s a look at the global silver supply chain.

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Visualizing the Global Silver Supply Chain

Although silver is widely known as a precious metal, its industrial uses accounted for more than 50% of silver demand in 2020.

From jewelry to electronics, various industries utilize silver’s high conductivity, aesthetic appeal, and other properties in different ways. With the adoption of electric vehicles, 5G networks, and solar panels, the world is embracing more technologies that rely on silver.

But behind all this silver are the companies that mine and refine the precious metal before it reaches other industries.

The above infographic from Blackrock Silver outlines silver’s global supply chain and brings the future of silver supply into the spotlight.

The Top 20 Countries for Silver Mining

Although silver miners operate in many countries across the globe, the majority of silver comes from a few regions.

RankCountry2020 Production (million ounces)% of Total
1Mexico 🇲🇽 178.122.7%
2Peru 🇵🇪 109.714.0%
3China 🇨🇳 108.613.8%
4Chile 🇨🇱 47.46.0%
5Australia 🇦🇺 43.85.6%
6Russia 🇷🇺 42.55.4%
7Poland 🇵🇱 39.45.0%
8United States 🇺🇸 31.74.0%
9Bolivia 🇧🇴 29.93.8%
10Argentina 🇦🇷 22.92.9%
11India 🇮🇳 21.62.8%
12Kazakhstan 🇰🇿 17.32.2%
13Sweden 🇸🇪 13.41.7%
14Canada 🇨🇦 9.31.2%
15Morocco 🇲🇦 8.41.1%
16Indonesia 🇮🇩 8.31.1%
17Uzbekistan 🇺🇿 6.30.8%
18Papua New Guinea 🇵🇬 4.20.5%
19Dominican Republic 🇩🇴 3.80.5%
20Turkey 🇹🇷 3.60.5%
N/ARest of the World 🌎 34.24.4%
N/ATotal784.4100%

Mexico, Peru, and China—the top three producers—combined for just over 50% of global silver production in 2020. South and Central American countries, including Mexico and Peru, produced around 390 million ounces—roughly half of the 784 million ounces mined globally.

Silver currency backed China’s entire economy at one point in history. Today, China is not only the third-largest silver producer but also the third-largest largest consumer of silver jewelry.

Poland is one of only three European countries in the mix. More than 99% of Poland’s silver comes from the KGHM Polska Miedź Mine, the world’s largest silver mining operation.

While silver’s supply chain spans all four hemispheres, concentrated production in a few countries puts it at risk of disruptions.

The Sustainability of Silver’s Supply Chain

The mining industry can often be subject to political crossfire in jurisdictions that aren’t safe or politically stable. Mexico, Chile, and Peru—three of the top five silver-producing nations—have the highest number of mining conflicts in Latin America.

Alongside production in politically unstable jurisdictions, the lack of silver-primary mines reinforces the need for a sustainable silver supply chain. According to the World Silver Survey, only 27% of silver comes from silver-primary mines. The other 73% is a by-product of mining for other metals like copper, zinc, gold, and others.

As the industrial demand for silver rises, primary sources of silver in stable jurisdictions will become more valuable—and Nevada is one such jurisdiction.

Nevada: The Silver State

Nevada, known as the Silver State, was once the pinnacle of silver mining in the United States.

The discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859, one of America’s richest silver deposits, spurred a silver rush in Nevada. But after the Comstock Lode mines began declining around 1874, it was the Tonopah district that brought Nevada’s silver production back to life.

Tonopah is a silver-primary district with a 100:1 silver-to-gold ratio. It also boasts 174 million ounces of historical silver production under its belt. Furthermore, between 1900 and 1950, Tonopah produced high-grade silver with an average grade of 1,384 grams per tonne. However, the Second World War brought a stop to mining in Tonopah, with plenty of silver left to discover.

Today, Nevada is the second-largest silver-producing state in the U.S. and the Tonopah district offers the opportunity to revive a secure and stable source of primary silver production for the future.

Blackrock Silver is working to bring silver back to the Silver State with exploration at its flagship Tonopah West project in Nevada.

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