Cisco Canada Blog

How technology is transforming the mining industry

July 30, 2013

If you had to name one industry being transformed by technology, ‘mining’ is probably not the first one that comes to mind.

But why shouldn’t it?

The mining industry has thrived on innovation and technological advances. Over 150 years ago, the Gold Rush in California developed new innovations in extracting precious metals from the earth.  Now as more information becomes available through the connection of new people, process, data and things on our networks, mining companies are at the forefront of this transformation. Companies like Canada’s own Dundee Precious Metals.

How are they doing it? That exact question was the topic of a global roundtable event on July 23, and it was a fascinating discussion.

Dundee Precious Metal’s Corporate Director of IT Mark Gelsomini participated in the event and shared the Canadian company’s technology story with global media. The below is an excerpt of the conversation that took place:

Q: What challenges have been overcome at Dundee simply by using technology?

Mark: Safety is the first and foremost priority to the entire organization. With technology, now when we do our blasting underground we actually know when people have left the mine. There’s no question where they are. That’s one important area where technology has improved visibility.

Another big aspect is the cost of adding new communications systems such as a leaky feeder. Leaky feeder systems are very expensive and must be maintained in a very specific way, and if you do not maintain it correctly it causes a lot of issues. With the introduction of Cisco technology and the innovative developments around it, you can expand it at your discretion. There is no limitation from a growth perspective and we never have to say “ok, today we are in this area of the mine so we need to retract the technology and use it somewhere else.”

Q: What’s next for the mining industry?

Mark: I like to compare it to the automotive industry. If you look at the automotive industry 30 years ago, it was very similar to mining. Car assembly was not automated and very little technology had been implemented into the process. But eventually certain technologies were introduced to improve efficiencies. What you are seeing is the same transformation in mining. WiFi has started to be introduced into these environments and standard communications via WiFi are starting to become more prevalent in the mines. In the next 3-5 years you’ll see a focus on how we bring in technologies like WiFi and push-to-talk communications that are robust enough for these environments. I keep saying it’s just around the corner.

Eventually things will change. We have reached the point where, globally, mining companies are interested in technology and how it can transform our businesses and industry.

Learning how mining companies such as Dundee are leveraging these new connections, what we call the Internet of Everything, to create new business value was an eye-opening experience. These companies are able to use technologies like Cisco TelePresence to collaborate in real-time across global regions, and even remotely analyze data in real-time to save time and money. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they think of next.

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