The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Precision milling plays a crucial role in mining applications such as crushing, grinding, sorting and concentrating the minerals. 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: precision milling. 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
Precision milling is a key innovation area in mining
Precision milling refers to the process of using specialized milling equipment and techniques to finely and accurately grind or crush ore, rock, or other geological materials into smaller particles with a high degree of precision and control. This process is essential in mining operations, as it plays a critical role in mineral processing, ore beneficiation, and the production of valuable minerals and metals. The method aims to achieve specific particle size distributions, liberate valuable minerals from the ore matrix, and enhance the efficiency of downstream processing.
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 120 companies, spanning technology vendors, established mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of precision milling.
Key players in precision milling – 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 precision milling
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2022)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Komatsu||742||Unlock Company Profile|
|Caterpillar||145||Unlock Company Profile|
|Tian Di Science & Technology||125||Unlock Company Profile|
|Deere||107||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sandvik||101||Unlock Company Profile|
|Anglo American||91||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sanyhe International||80||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Energy Investment||34||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shanxi Tiandi Coal Mining Machinery||25||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sany Heavy Equipment Investments||24||Unlock Company Profile|
|Kennametal||17||Unlock Company Profile|
|Fayat||17||Unlock Company Profile|
|Tiandi Shanghai Mining Equipment Technology||16||Unlock Company Profile|
|XCMG Construction Machinery||14||Unlock Company Profile|
|Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation||12||Unlock Company Profile|
|Vermeer||11||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Railway Group||10||Unlock Company Profile|
|INDUS||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|China National Coal Group||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|Herrenknecht||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|Jiamusi Coal Mining Machinery||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|ChampionX||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Railway Tunnel Equipment Manufacturing||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|Bis Industries||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Coal Technology||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|Schlumberger||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shan Xi Hua Yang Group New Energy||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|The Weir Group||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Vermeer Manufacturing||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Yankuang Group||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shanghai Chuangli Group||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Zhou Bin||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Jinneng Holding Group||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Yima Mining Group||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Triumph Heavy Industry||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Anhui Hengyuan Coal-Electricity Group||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Chongqing Songzao Coal And Electric||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sollami||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Inst Techniki Gorniczej Komag||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Guizhou Panjiang Refined Coal||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Shanxi Lu'an Environmental EnergyDev.||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Coal Zhangjiakou Coal Mining Machinery||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|PowerChina Northwest Engineering||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Harnischfeger Technologies||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Henan Inst Engineering||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Longkou Mining Group||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Pingdingshan Antaihua Mining Safety Equipment Manufacturing||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Zhejiang Baichen Food Technology||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Alliance Resource Partners LP||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Zhengzhou Siwei Electromechanical Equipment Manufacturing||2||Unlock Company Profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Komatsu and Sandvik, which are among the leading innovators in precision milling, offer products related to precision milling technologies. One such is milling machines, which are used to excavate and remove ore, minerals and rock from mining sites. Sandvik, for instance, offers a wide range of milling tools including shoulder milling tools, edging tools, face milling tools, high-feed milling tools, profile milling tools, copy milling tools, cut off, slot and groove milling tools, gear milling tools and thread milling tools.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Mining.