The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need to enhance safety, improve productivity and control costs, and the growing importance of technologies such as automation, 3D mapping and geomodelling, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). Artificial intelligence (AI) is extremely prominent in mining, with companies desperate to find new methods to improve productivity and minimize costs, while also finding new sources of minerals. AI is already playing a big role; however, its influence will only grow in the years to come. AI enables mining companies to use autonomous machinery and data to improve efficiency and productivity and reduce downtime. These tools can reduce operational costs for mining companies. Autonomous machinery can also reduce the requirement for on-site workers, thereby removing them from potential hazards and improving safety. AI can help companies better understand the environment and terrain where exploitation is to begin. In the last three years alone, there have been over 62,000 patents filed and granted in the mining industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial intelligence in mining: tunnel path modelingBuy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 70,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the mining industry, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Tunnel path modeling is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Tunnel path modeling is the process of creating detailed and accurate representations of the planned or existing tunnel routes within a mining operation. These models are typically developed using various technologies, such as computer-aided design (CAD), geographic information systems (GIS), or specialized tunnel design software. Tunnel path modeling plays a crucial role in the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of tunnels in mining for several factors such as visualization, optimization, safety, environmental considerations, geological analysis, structural integrity, cost estimation, project management, and maintenance.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of tunnel path modeling.

Key players in tunnel path modeling – a disruptive innovation in the mining industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to tunnel path modeling

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
JFE 105 Unlock Company Profile
Sandvik 41 Unlock Company Profile
Proterial 27 Unlock Company Profile
ArcelorMittal 24 Unlock Company Profile
China Energy Investment 12 Unlock Company Profile
JP Steel Plantech 10 Unlock Company Profile
Jeffery Steel 6 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Steel 5 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 4 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 3 Unlock Company Profile
Magang (Group) 3 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Steel 2 Unlock Company Profile
Arcelormittal Investigacion Y Desarollo 2 Unlock Company Profile
Zhengzhou Coal Mining Machinery Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
Huaibei Mining 1 Unlock Company Profile
Power Construction Corporation of China 1 Unlock Company Profile
Shenhua Xinjiang Energy 1 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO 1 Unlock Company Profile
Maanshan Iron and Steel 1 Unlock Company Profile
Ansteel Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
China Baowu Steel Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
Geely Automobile 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

JFE and Sandvik are among the leading patent filers in tunnel path modeling. Sandvik’s iSURE®8 software, also known as Intelligent Sandvik Underground Rock Excavation software, is a computer program used for tunneling and mining drill and blast processes control. It generates detailed data in order to optimize the drilling and blasting cycle. In terms of application diversity, Maanshan Iron and Steel leads the pack, while Sandvik and ArcelorMittal stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Sandvik held the top positions, followed by Proterial and ArcelorMittal.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Mining.

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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.