Digital transformation in mining a national necessity

Issue 5 2022 Mining (Industry)

In early 2021, Minerals Council South Africa published a report on how the country’s mining industry was increasing its use of new innovations to strengthen several sectors of operation, with the Covid-19 lockdown accelerating the application of 4IR technologies.[1]

Council CEO, Roger Baxter, echoed this, stating that the council advocated for a people-centric, 4IR-enabled approach to the sector’s modernisation and that the technology would allow national operators to be globally competitive.


Marcel Bruyns.

4IR represents a dramatic shift across all industries in terms of digital transformation and new ways of conducting business. In mining, innovative methods such as network video and audio products make overseeing and managing operations more efficient and secure, while also serving as a scalable solution for what is, essentially, South Africa’s most important sector economically. To understand those solutions, we need to take a look at specific functions and objectives.

Increasing and protecting profit

Like any industry, surveillance plays an essential role in security. South Africa’s mining sector has long been impacted by criminal activity, ranging from theft and vandalism to looting. Violent crimes have recently brought operators to the brink, with some reconsidering their presence and ability to continue to do business.[1] When it comes to security, network video allows for shorter response times and comprehensive location coverage – all managed from a single control room. Perimeter patrols can be costly, or limited to a couple of strategic points that allow for blind spots. Surveillance cameras solve this issue. They’re equipped with motion capabilities and thermal imaging that enables them to detect breaches and potential false alarms.

Because of their size and intricacies, mining operations can suffer from redundancies that affect the operator’s ability to maximise revenue and output. Network video aims to provide as much information as possible in terms of a site’s operations, ranging from how much downtime is incurred to whether resources or mined material is lost through mismanagement. Taking it a step further, network audio is a useful communication tool. By integrating audio functionalities, operators can issue alerts and notifications on a wide scale.

Sustainability and going green

Sitting at the core of every enterprise’s digital transformation strategy is data. Data, gathered from multiple sources in many different ways, is set to radically change the mining sector from top to bottom, from the ways in which people work to the kind of work they do. Mines of the future will be able to unlock new value by deploying new digital and analytical skills, and present new opportunities in the face of growing challenges.[2]

One of those challenges lies with the environment. The green revolution is here, and mining operators can lead the charge by analysing their environmental impact. Today’s network video products are equipped with sensors and software that can identify and measure site elements such as air quality, noise levels, waste discharge and water management. The gathered data can then be used – with the help of advanced AI solutions – to formulate new models and highlight specific areas of activity that can be improved, reduced or upgraded to meet outlined environmental standards.

The name of the game is sustainability, with many industries now looking at how they can embrace it, both in terms of their organisation and the infrastructure they deploy. The best monitoring solutions are both scalable and long-lasting, providing benefits in both ways.

Promoting workplace safety

Mining can be a dangerous job, which is why it is essential that operators take every step to ensure the occupational safety of all employees, in line with national commitments that they are set to adopt continuous real-time monitoring solutions.[3]

There are several application scenarios. For example, visibility is a highly impactful challenge for many mining operators and their employees. Underground tunnels can be poorly lit, while with open-air mines, the amount of dust kicked up by excavation and transport processes can create hazardous working conditions. Surveillance cameras equipped with advanced infrared settings and low-light functionality can be used to survey areas regardless of conditions. Meanwhile, solutions such as onboard and body-worn cameras can be used to monitor specific individuals and equipment, identify leaks or malfunctions that could threaten lives, as well as ensure occupational safety policies and PPE requirements are adhered to.

Whether it be for safety, productivity or the environment, the best 4IR mining solutions are ones that integrate and support existing systems to fulfil a core function. Surveillance goes above and beyond just watching for intruders and criminals, and by adopting cutting-edge solutions, South Africa’s mines can be enabled for the long term and upgraded in the name of efficiency, security and opportunity.

[1] https://www.mineralscouncil.org.za/industry-news/publications/position-papers/send/37-position-papers/1364-ten-insights-into-4ir

[2] https://www.pwc.co.za/en/assets/pdf/sa-mine-2021.pdf

[3] https://www.mineralscouncil.org.za/downloads/send/14-current/1572-integrated-annual-review-2020-safety-and-health-industry-performance-review


Credit(s)




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Compact, lightweight bullet cameras with support for analytics
Axis Communications SA Products CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
Axis Communications announced two new outdoor-ready bullet-style cameras featuring deep-learning processing units for analytics based on deep learning on the edge.

Read more...
A key to urban transport challenges
Axis Communications SA Transport (Industry) CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring Integrated Solutions Logistics (Industry)
There are many enabling technologies that can impact transportation in South Africa, but a good place to start is by considering the applications for smart physical technology with the ability to collect and respond to data.

Read more...
Privacy shield with optional face blur
Axis Communications SA Products CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
Axis Live Privacy Shield compares a live camera view to a set background scene and applies dynamic masking to areas of change.

Read more...
Reliable power solutions light the way for mining
Technews Publishing Mining (Industry) Products
Deloitte notes that energy is one of the biggest expenses for mining companies, constituting approximately 30% of total operating costs.

Read more...
Smart living enabled
Axis Communications SA IT infrastructure Integrated Solutions Residential Estate (Industry)
The shift to 5G is far-reaching and we can expect to see real applications in the network security and surveillance sector, particularly when it comes to smart buildings and cities of the future.

Read more...
Energy transition in the mining industry
Mining (Industry) Security Services & Risk Management
Mining houses are confronted with the same energy transition as other industries and have an urgent responsibility to transform the way they mine through technological change.

Read more...
Reliable connectivity remains key for mining
Mining (Industry) IT infrastructure
Improving operations empowers the mining industry to be more efficient and productive, and it also makes it safer, more cost-effective and more sustainable.

Read more...
Workforce management to improve mining security
Mining (Industry)
Workforce management can improve customer satisfaction, increase and guard employee productivity, help maintain compliance and reduce costs.

Read more...
The investment that boosts the bottom line
Mining (Industry)
Securiton SecuriHeat d-LIST is a resettable line-type heat detector system comprised of a series of individual hybrid temperature sensor circuits extruded in a robust cable.

Read more...
Water deluge fire suppression system
FS Systems Editor's Choice Fire & Safety Mining (Industry) Products
The FS Group custom-designed and installed an electronically actuated water deluge fire suppression system for an underground explosives magazine, ensuring both the safety of miners and operations, as well as regulatory compliance.

Read more...