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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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Base Metals

20 Common Metal Alloys and What They’re Made Of

You can’t find stainless steel, brass, sterling silver, or white gold on the periodic table. Learn about 20 common metal alloys, and what they are made from.

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Every day, you’re likely to encounter metals that cannot be found anywhere on the periodic table.

You may play a brass instrument while wearing a white gold necklace – or maybe you cook with a cast iron skillet and store your leftovers in a stainless steel refrigerator.

It’s likely that you know these common metal alloys by name, and you can probably even imagine what they look and feel like. But do you know what base metals these alloys are made of, exactly?

Common Metal Alloys

Today’s infographic comes to us from Alan’s Factory Outlet, and it breaks down metal and non-metal components that go into popular metal alloys.

In total, 20 alloys are highlighted, and they range from household names (i.e. bronze, sterling silver) to lesser-known metals that are crucial for industrial purposes (i.e. solder, gunmetal, magnox).

20 Common Metal Alloys and What They

Humans make metal alloys for various reasons.

Some alloys have long-standing historical significance. For example, electrum is a naturally-occurring alloy of gold and silver (with trace amounts of copper) that was used to make the very first metal coins in ancient history.

However, most of the common metal alloys on the above list are actually human inventions that are used to achieve practical purposes. Some were innovated by brilliant metallurgists, while others were discovered by fluke, but they’ve all had an ongoing impact on our species over time.

Alloys with an Impact

The Bronze Age (3,000 BC – 1,200 BC) is an important historical period that is rightfully named after one game-changing development: the ability to use bronze. This alloy, made from copper and tin, was extremely useful to our ancestors because it is much stronger and harder than its component metals.

Steel is another great example of an alloy that has changed the world. It is one of the most important and widely-used metals today. Without steel, modern civilization (skyscrapers, bridges, etc.) simply wouldn’t be possible.

While nobody knows exactly who invented steel, the alloy has a widely-known cousin that was likely invented in somewhat accidental circumstances.

In 1912, English metallurgist Harry Brearley had been tasked with finding a more erosion-resistant steel for a small arms manufacturer, trying many variations of alloys with none seeming to be suitable. However, in his scrap metal heap – where almost all of the metals he tried were rusting – there was one gun barrel that remained astonishingly untouched.

The metal alloy – now known to the world as stainless steel – was a step forward in creating a corrosion-resistant steel that is now used in many applications ranging from medical uses to heavy industry.

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Base Metals

How AI and Big Data Will Unlock the Next Wave of Mineral Discoveries

Mineral exploration produces massive amounts of data. With AI, geologists can produce geological insights from this data to make the next discovery.

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How AI and Big Data Will Unlock the Next Mineral Discovery

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are rapidly proving their value across many industries.

Today’s infographic comes from GoldSpot Discoveries, and it shows that when this tech is applied to massive geological data sets, that there is growing potential to unlock the next wave of mineral discoveries.

Mineral Exploration: Fortunes Go to the Few

Discovering new sources of minerals, such as copper, gold, or even cobalt, can be notoriously difficult but also very rewarding. According to Goldspot, the chance of finding a new deposit is around 0.5%, with odds improving to 5% if exploration takes place near a known resource.

On the whole, mineral exploration has not been a winning prospect if you compare the total dollar spend and the actual value of the resulting discoveries.

Measuring Discovery Performance by Region (2005 to 2014)

Region Exploration SpendEstimated Value of DiscoveriesValue/Spend ratio
Australia$13 billion$13 billion0.97
Canada$25 billion$19 billion0.77
USA$10 billion$5 billion0.48
Latin America$33 billion$19 billion0.57
Pacific/SE Asia$8 billion$4 billion0.49
Africa$20 billion$23 billion1.19
Western Europe$4 billion$2 billion0.42
Rest of World$27 billion$8 billion0.32
Total$140 billion$93 billion0.57

Figures in 2014 dollars. (Source: MinEx Consulting, March 2015)

Aside from the geographic insights, on the surface this data reveals that mineral exploration does not pay for itself. That said, there are still significant discoveries worth billions of dollars – it’s just the returns go inordinately to a few small players that make big finds.

Much of the money spent on exploration may not have produced the next great discovery, but you can be sure it created massive volumes of data that could be used for further refining of exploration models.

So, What is the Problem?

Every exploration failure or success produces geological insights. The mineral exploration process is the source of massive amounts of data in the form of soil samples, chip samples, geochemistry, drill results, and assay results. Each drill hole is a tiny snapshot into the processes that form the earth.

A single drill hole can create 200 megabytes of data and when there are many drill holes coupled with other types of information, an exploration project can produce terabytes of data. If you wanted to compare your one project to hundreds of others to find the best insights, the amount of data becomes dizzying.

All these data points are clues that can be used to find new mineral deposits, but to sort through them is too much for even an entire team of capable geologists.

Luckily, using today’s technology, this data can now be used to train computers to spot the areas showing similar patterns to past discoveries.

AI-Assistance

The true power of AI will be in its ability to empower technically trained professionals to make decisions in an increasingly complex and data-driven world.

Professor Ajay Agrawal, a noted academic in AI and founder of the University of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab, categorizes human activities into five categories:

  1. Data collection
  2. Information retrieval
  3. Prediction
  4. Judgment
  5. Action

He concludes that machines should do the first three and that humans – such as geologists, doctors, lawyers, investment bankers and others – should make the judgment calls and take the actions based on predictive capabilities of AI.

The mineral exploration industry presents a good example of how AI and big data can help technical professionals make discoveries faster, with less money, using a wide variety of data inputs created.

Opportunity Generator and the AI-friendly Future

AI can take the large amounts of data from many different projects in order to spot the right opportunities to further explore, building on decades of geological data from projects around the world.

The right technology can help reduce the risk inherent in exploration and lead to more mineral discoveries on budget, rewarding those that deployed their data most effectively. Companies that are able to harness this power will tip the scales in their favor.

As a result, mineral exploration is no longer so much an art of interpretation – but instead, it becomes closer to a pure science, giving geologists a whole-field perspective of all the data.

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