The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for improved safety, productivity, cost control and the environment. There is a growing importance of technologies such as GPS, new drilling technologies, 3d mapping and geomodelling through to remote operation centres, autonomous equipment and process controls. In the last three years alone, there have been over 48,000 patents filed and granted in the mining industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Extraction Technology in Mining: Mine Drainage Systems.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 350,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the mining industry, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Mine drainage systems is a key innovation area in extraction technology

The contamination of surface water by mine water discharge is known as mine drainage. Mine drainage systems, such as open drains, sump pumps, and settling ponds, are required to prevent disruptions in excavation, loading, and hauling activities caused by a large amount of water in the pit.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of mine drainage systems.

Key players in mine drainage systems – a disruptive innovation in the mining industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Leading companies include Zijin Mining Group, which assesses acid rock drainage risks at mine sites and develops methods to reduce drainage generation. The company incorporated acid rock drainage into its overall water recycling system, recovering valuable metals from higher concentration acid rock drainage, neutralising it with lower concentration acid rock drainage, and then reusing or discharging it once the required standards were met. Each year, Zijinshan Gold and Copper Mine recovers more than 10kt of copper metal from acid rock drainage using this method.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Mining.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.