The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need for improved safety, productivity, cost control and the environment, and growing importance of technologies such as GPS, new drilling technologies, 3D mapping and geomodelling through to remote operation centers, autonomous equipment, and process controls. 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 Innovation in mining: mine drainage systems. Buy the report here.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
40+ innovations will shape the mining industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the mining industry using innovation intensity models built on over 70,000 patents, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, tunnel ventilation systems, mine drainage systems, and tunnel lining construction are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Battery metal recycling, precision milling and virtual industrial monitoring are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are high performance drill bits and hybrid industrial vehicles, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for the mining industry
Mine drainage systems is a key innovation area in mining
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 130 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 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 mine drainage systems
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2022)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|China Railway Group||98||Unlock Company Profile|
|State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council||22||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Communications Construction Group||20||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Energy Investment||15||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Railway Group||14||Unlock Company Profile|
|Power Construction Corporation of China||11||Unlock Company Profile|
|China State Construction Engineering||10||Unlock Company Profile|
|China National Petroleum||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Huaibei Mining||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|Jinneng Holding Group||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Railway First Group||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|Pingdingshan Antaihua Mining Safety Equipment Manufacturing||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|State Grid Corporation of China||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shandong Gold Group||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Railway Design||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Baowu Steel Group||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sichuan Road & Bridge Group||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Guizhou Panjiang Refined Coal||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|The 2nd Engineering of China Railway 12th Bureau Group||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Huainan Mining Group||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Fosun International||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Zijin Mining Group||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Metallurgical Group||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shanxi Coking Coal Group||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Tian Di Science & Technology||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Beijing Municipal Construction Group||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|CSCEC Road And Bridge Group||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Jinchuan Group||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Railway 19Th Bureau Group Sixth Engineering||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Powerchina Roadbridge Group||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|The 3rd Engineering of China Railway 12th Bureau Group||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Zhengzhou Power Supply Company of State Grid Hanan Electric Power||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shandong Energy Group||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Tian Di Science & Technology||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Railway Erju 5th Engineering||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Railway Tunnel Stock||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Chuzhou Seek Electronics||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|The 2nd Engineering Of China Railway 17 Bureau Group||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shandong Hualian Mining||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Railway 16th Bureau Group Road & Bridge Engineering||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Chongqing Construction Engineering Group||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Railway Siyuan Group Southwest Prospecting Design||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Henan Energy and Chemical Industry Group||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|The 1st Engineering of China Railway 11th Bureau Group||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|CCCC First Highway Xiamen Engineering||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Korea Railroad Research Insitute||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Cmcu Engineering||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sinohydro Engineering Bureau 4||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|CCCC Road and Bridge Consultants||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shandong Jinling Mining||2||Unlock Company Profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Zijin Mining Group, one of the leading patent filers in mine drainage systems, 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, neutralizing it with lower concentration acid rock drainage, and then reusing or discharging it once the required standards were met. Zijinshan gold and copper mine recovers more than 10kt of copper metal a year 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.