The role of a Mine Manager is continually evolving as the world around us changes. Rapid technological advancements, volatile economic environments, politically unstable periods, and the rising influence of civic organizations and NGOs are just a few of the factors that Mine Managers must take into account when making decisions for their operations, General Manager of Unki Mines Engineer Walter Nemasasi said in a presentation at the on-going Association of Mine Managers of Zimbabwe (AMMZ) AGM and Conference 2023.
His presentation explored some of the emerging world trends that will impact the decision process of the future Mine Manager.
Below is a summary of his presentation
One of the key trends in the mining industry is the call for responsible mining. Organizations like the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) have set standards and requirements for responsible mining practices, covering areas such as legal compliance, stakeholder engagement, environmental management, and worker health and safety. Mine managers must navigate these requirements to ensure that their operations align with responsible practices and maintain their license to operate.
Another trend that Mine Managers must consider is the increasing focus on zero environmental damage and zero injury to people. This means adopting sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, such as using clean sources of power like renewable energy and optimizing energy use. It also means implementing advanced safety systems, such as proximity detection systems and real-time remote monitoring, to ensure the safety of workers.
Technological advancements are also reshaping the mining industry. From drilling and excavation to processing and transportation, machines and equipment are becoming more autonomous and efficient. Remote-controlled and autonomous machines are reducing the need for manual labor and increasing productivity. Robotics, powered by artificial intelligence, are being used for tasks like drilling, blasting, loading, and conveyance. These advancements not only increase efficiency but also improve safety by keeping workers out of potentially hazardous areas.
The convergence of wireless technologies and mining is another trend that mine managers must be aware of. The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the way mining operations are managed. Through the use of micro-electromechanical systems and internet connectivity, mine managers can monitor and control their operations remotely. This not only improves productivity but also removes operators from potentially dangerous work areas.
In addition to technological advancements, mine managers must also consider the impact of global trends on metal prices and inflation rates. Fluctuating metal prices can greatly impact the profitability of mining operations, while high inflation rates can increase operating costs. Mine managers must stay informed about these trends and adopt agile strategies to navigate the volatile economic environment.
The article also touches on specific projects and technologies that are being developed and implemented in the mining industry. For example, the nuGen Zero Emissions Haulage Solution (ZEHS) truck, a hydrogen-powered vehicle, is being launched to reduce CO2 emissions. Processing technologies, such as online analyzers and the Kell hydrometallurgical process, are improving plant control and efficiency while reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
Tailings storage facilities (TSFs) are also undergoing changes in management practices following the Brumadinho dam disaster in Brazil. More attention is being given to biodiversity monitoring using eDNA techniques, which analyze DNA traces left by living organisms in the environment. This allows for the identification of existing and historical species in an area, helping to protect biodiversity.
Overall, mine managers of the future must be proactive in staying ahead of emerging world trends. They must prioritize responsible mining practices, leverage technological advancements, and adapt to changing economic and environmental conditions. By doing so, they can ensure the viability of their mines and contribute to a greener and more sustainable world.
GET Unki Mines General Manager Engineer Walter Nemasasi’s PRESENTATION HERE