The three common goals of mining companies—safety, productivity, and sustainability—are all supported by robotic deployment.
Safety is improved by the removal of humans from hazardous areas. Drilling rigs can be operated and supervised remotely rather than on-site, haulage can be done without human drivers, underground tasks can be done without human presence, and the inspection of high walls or underwater regions can be done by drones, land rovers, and underwater robots.
Productivity is improved primarily because robotic technology is more precise, reliable, and enduring than human labour. Drills can follow specified boring patterns and calculate the optimal amount of explosive to fill, haulage trucks can drive without stopping for breaks or staff changes, and underground mining can be done without waiting for the smoke from detonations to clear.
The main contribution of robotics to the sustainability of a mine is the reduction of energy expenditure. Remotely operated and automated vehicles consume far less fuel since their operation involves much less stopping and starting. Modern robotic technology uses batteries, rather than fossil fuel, for power.
Leading miners in robotics
Historically, the industry has been slow to adopt the technology. But companies are increasingly embracing digitalisation. That mine sites are typically long-term assets—combined with new challenges in supply chains, resource development, and sustainability—means that investing in technology to maximise output from fewer sites is more prudent than a scattershot approach.
Leading adopters of robotics in the mining industry include Anglo American, BHP, Boliden and Rio Tinto.
Discover the leading robotics companies in mining
Using its experience in the sector, Mining Technology has listed some of the leading companies providing products and services related to robotics.
The information provided in the download document is drafted for mining executives and technology leaders involved in mining robotics solutions.
The download contains detailed information on suppliers and their product offerings, alongside contact details to aid purchase or hiring decisions.
Amongst the leading suppliers of robotics in the mining industry are Caterpillar, Epiroc, Komatsu and Sandvik.
Future of robotics in the mining industry
Investment and interest in robotic technologies have risen steadily, but since mining is typically slower to adopt new technologies, there is still plenty of opportunity for robotic implementation to bring gains. Industrial robotics spending was $14.6bn in 2020 and is forecast to be $352.1bn in 2030. The CAGR over this decade will be 37.5%.