June 14, 2024

Business Bib

Business & Finance Blog

The Tech Trends Shaping the Future of the Mining Industry

2 min read

Technological changes have become the new determinants of what we can mine. Old methods are being left as more aggressive methods take the center stage in the industry. More radical changes are expected in the future as new mining entities, especially developing economies, skip some of the lengthy stages of modernization that advanced economies went through in the 19th and 20th centuries. Take a look at some of these technologies:

Shift to a Low-carbon Economy

Today, energy generation is shifting from fossil fuels as renewable sources take over. Though fossil fuels were critical to improving people’s living standards, they have now been associated with greenhouse gases. This is why newer technologies are directed at low-carbon economies.

Because low-carbon energy is more mineral intensive compared to fossil fuels, the mining industry is expected to boom in the coming years. For example, most clean energy facilities such as bigger batteries require minerals such as cobalt, lithium and other rare metals. Therefore, new mining activities are expected in areas where these minerals are located.

New Technologies for Mining in Frontier Areas

Today, many leading mining regions, call them low-risk areas, are getting exhausted after decades of intensive mining. As such, mining companies are busy looking for new mineral sources. But fast population growth and urbanization have extended to or close to areas with mineral deposits. Therefore, mining companies have to use technologies that will make it easy for targeted and highly efficient mining. Here are some of them:

  • In-situ leaching: This is one of the mining technologies used to recover minerals such as uranium and copper from boreholes.
  • Block carving: This an underground mining method that utilizes gravity to reach mineral deposits located deep in the earth.
  • Bio-mining: This is a technology that helps to extract metals from solid materials and ores using fungi or prokaryotes.

Shift to ‘Social Contracts’

One of the most important components for a successful mining venture is the communities, especially those located near the extraction and processing sites. The most successful mining companies as mentioned here, are those that put a lot of focus on local communities. However, there are some mining projects that have encountered hostilities and even forced to shut operations. This means that new mining companies are likely to find it difficult commencing operations without the support of local communities. The situation is made worse because of the focus on automation that means fewer job opportunities for locals.

For mining companies to start and continue mining with mining operations, they might have to craft new business models that will make communities feel part of the process, identify with mining projects, and get some of the benefits. This will be a type of social contract!

As modern technology and its use become the norm, the mining sector must also change to remain acceptable, supply the minerals to the market, and remain profitable.