Critical Minerals vs Energy Transition Inflection Point
The World Economic Forum 2023, which happened last week in Davos (Switzerland), is an annual meeting that convenes leaders from government, business, and civil society to address the state of the world and discuss priorities for the year ahead. It provides a platform to engage in constructive, forward-looking dialogues and help find solutions through public-private cooperation.
The world today is at a critical inflection point and the sheer number of recurring crises necessitates a global effort. One of the main challenges for this century is energy security, which is also related to the energy transition needed to reduce carbon emissions and guarantee that the consequences of climate change will be softened looking at the foreseen future (below 2ºC).
But, what does mining have to do with it?
The energy transition will sharply increase the demand for minerals – primarily critical minerals such as lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel, and graphite. According to predictions, the world requires four times as many essential minerals for renewable energy technologies in 2040 as it does today.
The big question is: how the mining industry – which periodically goes through periods of ‘supply and demand’ struggles, will be able to fill such an enormous gap?
Is Investing in AI-Technology mean Investing in Risks?
According to BHP CEO Mike Henry, the mining sector will need to take more chances with cutting-edge technologies if it wants to satisfy the energy transition’s enormous appetite for commodities. In this case, it is crucial to get far more value out of current mines while increasing future supply.
In order to achieve this, Miners must employ artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, better big data management, and new technologies to make the most of what they already have, given that new mines are likely to come into production slowly and with lower ore grades.
For example, getting new mining projects up and running is taking longer than it used to because of environmental and legal stricter restrictions. Two or three decades ago, it would take 10 years to get a new mine up, now it takes 15 to 20 years.
Henry goes on to suggest that we urgently need to speed up the implementation of AI-based solutions to help get more from existing assets (mines, equipment, processes, etc). In the current climate, it would seem that the only game in town is the one that places a focus on increasing throughput and metal recovery. This seems the best approach to solving the current crisis, and that requires advanced technology such as proven AI optimization technology that allows miners to improve metal production by 5%, increase throughput by 3%, reduce chemical use by 16%, energy consumption by 18%, and more.
Over the medium to long term, the mining industry has to get better at innovating and taking a bit more risk in deploying innovative technologies. That’s the sort of breakthrough that will allow us to unlock more of the existing resource or footprint more efficiently.
What is out there to Help?
The next quick-growing trend in mining technology has already taken shape; Namely, the ability to unlock the worth from the mountain of data that is meticulously gathered at most mines sites. By improving predictive analytics and pattern identification, several mining operations have started to go one stage further with IntelliSense.io to implement discrete components of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions.
IntelliSense.io has built a library of virtual sensors that act as digital twins of the mining circuits allowing any data issues to be addressed. The value lies in the business insights this data can provide to decision-makers. Information such as the performance of equipment, the quality of orebodies and stockpiles, geospatial data, plant operations, and environmental performance is available to drive efficiency and production rates.
The use of AI/ML to connect, model, and provide real-time information to the process operators allows them to see into the future, and to operate at an optimum level without the risk of shutdown or other adverse events.
Our brains.app platform, and suite of real-time decision-making applications use Scientific AI*-based technologies to optimize each process, from mine to market. These breakthrough technologies allow miners to unlock more of the existing resource footprint more efficiently.
*Scientific AI is the fusion of physics models with machine learning techniques. It was developed by Intellisense.io to further increase net metal production through the use of our AI solutions
We are extremely proud that our apps have helped our customers large and small (Anglo American, BHP, Rio Tinto, Antofagasta Minerals, Altynalmas, ERG, etc) to achieve results like these:
- >$100M in increased metal production by better blending from Stockpiles using our Digital Stockpile app
- 1% increase in grinding throughput (>$1M annual benefit realization) using our Grinding Optimization app
- 16% reduction in chemical use using our Thickener Optimization app
- 3.5GWh reduction in energy consumption (saving 2480 tCO2e) using our Thickener Optimization app
- 8% reduction in energy consumption using our pipeline pumping optimization app
Central to our implementation process is the capacity to manage the change associated with the artificial intelligence solutions while meeting the scope of deployment (generally 4 months), whilst minimizing risk to our clients with pre-built applications. And real, tangible value can be delivered in the initial 3-5 months. Interested in knowing more?