“Copper has just become a lot harder to get, and we’re relying on technology to keep dealing with that decline in grade,” said Craig Stegman, vice president Operational and Technical Support in Rio Tinto’s Copper & Diamonds business, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in June 2017.
To access one of the world’s largest untapped copper deposits, the Resolution team is going to new lengths to create a safe and efficient mine. Here are four technologies the team plans to use to mine copper ore deep underground:
1. Powerful sensors
Tens of thousands of powerful electronic sensors will monitor everything from ensuring employees aren’t overheating, to monitoring the condition of equipment and tracking rock movement during the caving process.
The sensors need to be extra-durable, reliable and designed to withstand the high underground temperatures.
2. Sophisticated data analytics
Terabytes of data will travel wirelessly from sensors to a central database on Rio Tinto’s network and be fed into sophisticated analytics systems. These systems will help monitor tasks ranging from underground blasts to the movement of autonomous vehicles.
Rather than one person viewing data about a specific part of the mining process, information from across the mine can be sent to a single place where experts can obtain a more holistic view of operations.