Looking to the future or what changes are coming in the mining industry until 2050

    Have any of you wondered what mining will look like in 2050? Our director of strategy and grouping for GEOVIA at Dassault Systèmes, Jeff Hamilton, looks to the future 32 years ahead. His goal is to understand the development of the mining industry and how the inevitable changes in the landscape, which will be caused by an increase in the population of the planet, will affect it.

    Hamilton gave a number of specific predictions, which we now tell you:

    Prediction 1: Pressure on available resources due to rapid growth in urbanization

    It was reported that the world's population will increase from 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion by 2050. It is surprising that this growth is 28%, and this is really a lot. Moreover, the growth itself will be uneven, and it will be concentrated in Africa and Asia (India and Indonesia).

    At the same time, the main stratum of the world's population (70%) is based in urban areas - in existing cities, and in those that are still under construction.

    Based on such information, governments and organizations will be faced with the serious development of infrastructure, the amount of reconstruction that is needed for existing bodies. They will be faced with the task of properly allocating the budget for the implementation of the planned actions.

    In addition to these actions, the governing bodies will have to take into account the burden on our limited natural resources.

    By 2050, mining industry products will have one of the main strategic values ​​for the world. In this regard, the sector will have to rethink the impact of increased consumption on the remaining resources.

    Prediction 2: The evolution of social structures and communication between people

    At the present stage of life, we have the opportunity to explore the history of mankind in full. We know that man has always led a fairly sedentary life. On the way of its development, various agricultural and industrial revolutions took place, which led to the creation of large cities and states.

    Now, in the modern world, there have been tremendous changes in technologies that destroy traditional views on social structures, and this will be seen more noticeably as we approach to 2050.

    Vivid examples of ways of exchanging value among equals who do not know each other are distributed autonomous systems of mutual trust DAPP (decentralized application), ADPP (automatic data processing program), blockchain technology and many others. At the same time, such processes are characterized by the absence of a central authority regulating their transactions.

    The large growth of the sharing economy (economy sharing), or the economy of project employment have a visible impact on the type of organization we choose (for example, Uber and Spotify). If we turn to examples, in Dubai taxes are practically absent, and they exist in a self-sufficient “earned-paid” ecosystem. It is worth considering that we take into consideration 32 years of change, decentralized applications, sharing economics and a lifestyle that is built on the model of “lightweight assets”. All the affected development processes and the impact on our lives will have a big impact on human social organization.

    Prediction 3: Changes in the methods of consumption and extraction of natural resources

    It is not difficult to guess that the consumption of natural resources increases with the population. If we turn to the figures for population growth cited earlier, an increase in resource extraction will be required due to an increase in the population size from 20% to 25%. There is a need to develop new standards and methods for managing the product life cycle "from beginning to beginning." It is necessary to ensure the processing of raw materials in an optimized format. Some companies have already begun to change their own policy on the use of resources.

    So Apple announced in 2017 that they will use recycled materials for their products. They argued their position by the fact that natural mineral resources are limited, and some of them do not have the opportunity to renew in their place of birth.

    It is likely that the changes will affect the process of owning assets in a personal format. Asset ownership will begin to decline due to the emergence of a large number of options for the “sharing” economy and an increase in the value of asset utilization.

    In the near future, the technology of creating sensors and modeling of resource management will be significantly improved. It will be possible to move less waste material in order to get to the resource that needs to be extracted.

    To confirm the information provided, we turn to the main idea of ​​Michelle Ashe from Barrick Gold. She believes that if there are high-level technologies that will allow to drill wells, then process minerals and extract them with significantly less damage to the mineral deposit, then resource extraction without disturbing the integrity of the array will increase.

    Prediction 4: Human achievements in knowledge will be based on technology

    Many of you have already noticed that modern companies are working to improve human knowledge (human improvement) with the help of digital technologies that are being introduced into the human brain and body.

    Biohacking will open up completely new opportunities for humans. A person will be able to connect to the Internet or to a specific platform to work together with bio-improved people. This will be due to digital silicon implants that are implanted in the brain and enable communication between people with the same implants. In history, this form of communication and exposure was called "telepathy."
    Thanks to such methods of knowledge, there will be effective competition with future robotized life forms that will have common artificial intelligence.
    Opinions on the timing of improvements in human potential are divided. This is due to the fact that the speed of development of “neural lace” and brain implants has difficulties, but this does not cancel the fact that the achievements in the field of human improvement over these 32 years will dramatically change our world.

    Forecast 5: Mining in outer space will become real by 2050

    It is now quite possible to talk about the exploration of Mars and the mining of minerals on the moon. For example, the company Moon Express is working on sending a spacecraft to the moon to extract ice at the poles of the moon, which is needed to create rocket fuel. Thus, we can safely assume that the moon will become a transit place for refueling ships.
    It was also suggested that the fallen asteroids on the moon contain valuable elements of the platinum group. In addition, there is the likelihood of finding rare earth elements on the moon.

    Unfortunately, the economic interest in the field of mining of minerals on the moon and the delivery of ore to Earth is still in question. Opinions were expressed that it makes sense to mine ice in the polar caps of the moon, mine platinum from fallen asteroids, and find rare earth elements for use in building lunar buildings or space stations.

    One way or another, private interest in such processes is very large and, thanks to this interest, everything can become a reality by 2050.

    Prediction 6: Industrial batteries for storing alternative energy

    Let us examine the mining industry - this is an energy-intensive type of activity, which ideally needs an increase in the share of used energy obtained from renewable sources. At the same time, alternative energy sources (places of generation) do not fully provide all the necessary energy for mining machines. The generation itself is not constant, therefore it is not always possible to plan the necessary amount of alternative energy.

    To actualize alternative sources, “industrial scale” rechargeable batteries are required in order to accumulate electrical energy that is extracted from alternative sources. In the future, it can be used for mining. Certain positive results have already been achieved in this area, but there are still a large number of unimproved areas of this project.

    What will the development of battery storage industrial volume? Such batteries will save and manage energy per kilowatt-hour, because mining companies will accumulate energy from cheap sources and will be able to use the stored energy during peak consumption.

    Prediction 7: Use of robots in hazardous areas

    For many years there have been serious developments in the field of robotics. For example, the Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics is an electro-hydraulic product 1.5 meters high. It can carry a payload of 11 kg, is equipped with a laser infrared range detector and has stereoscopic vision.

    Looking into the future, we can safely say that mining will be carried out by next-generation robots, which will be used in such dangerous areas of mines as slaughter.

    The robots of the new generation will be much better than the Atlas, their creation will have a lower price, and their potential will be able to recoup all the costs of companies. In addition, there will be a serious increase in the use of general and narrow artificial intelligence by 2050.

    Prediction 8: The evolution of labor and labor skills

    The rate of change in the technological landscape is astounding; it is for this reason that workers should not stand still, but improve along with technological progress. It is necessary for the implementation of competent interaction between man and machine in order to manage the predicted 35-50 billion IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
    Computer engineering and maintenance of electro-hydraulic devices have been in high demand over the past decade, which have become increasingly complex and specialized.
    New technologies will require advanced instrumentation, process control devices. New employees will be invited from different fields of knowledge, which should be improved along with technology in such a rapidly developing environment for joint activities.

    The Internet of Things and the 4th Industrial Revolution

    So, we have already considered mining in 2050 and got acquainted with the main forecasts for the immense future. Jeff Hamilton didn’t stop at forecasts, he highlights the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it is used in the extractive industry.

    What is it - the Internet of things (IoT)?

    An IoT is a network of cyber-physical devices that includes embedded electronics, sensors / actuators, software, and network connections. In addition, the Internet of Things supports big data, analytics, and machine learning. To make it easier for you to understand, let us take the simplest examples of the manifestation of the Internet of things - this is a smart home, turning on the light on cotton, toasters with Wi-Fi connection and smart coffee machines.

    But back to our topic, we are interested in IoT in the industrial field of activity, so we denote another abbreviation - Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
    The main objective of the IIoT is to unlock the repositories of information that are based on systems with limited access. This will allow connecting sensors directly and collecting data throughout the entire process, providing them to employees in real time for making certain decisions.

    Now we denote the connection of the Internet of Things with the 4th Industrial Revolution. The fourth industrial revolution (Production 4.0) refers to the digitization of everything related to design, technology, production and support. The Internet of Things occupies a central role in all these processes. This revolution is aimed at the ubiquitous connection to cyber-systems that analyze, monitor and respond to any changes in operating conditions.

    From another point of view, a similar process is more like an evolution than a revolution, but the influence of digitization will soon enter into the everyday life of life. Now many professions have been given into the hands of machines, and in the future, the professional competencies of the machines will be expanded. In this regard, the society will also not stand still and will begin to expand their needs, since most of the simplest tasks will be given to the robots. Thus, the interests of people will be extended to art, entertainment, and the “creation of things” in the digital space, moving away from the material.

    Every day, we are approaching the fact that the “production” work will be concluded in writing a computer code, rather than manually cutting the part on the machine. Some governmental and public organizations consider quite radical changes as universal income (everyone gets money, work at will).

    Internet of things in the mining industry

    At this point in time, we see an ideal future, where production is connected with the central repository of big data processing. There, we will be able to use autonomous systems for flexibility in responding to changes in mine conditions, as well as the use of machine learning.

    IIoT in mining will have:

    • Digital connection - each system is connected and monitored centrally;
    • Relying on data - new available data (for example, data on new wells in the mine) will facilitate decision-making in real time and with their help you can change the production plan;
    • Basing on models - this actual data will automatically affect the current production schedule, through such a process they will be linked through a common data model;
    • A virtual world with reality is a simulation and simulation of a scenario that can ultimately be realized in the real world.

    For more information on the Internet of Things, please visit the webinar.

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