Mining firms should use technology to prevent incidents of injury and death in mines as well as bridge the information gaps for greater operational efficiency, technology industry executives say.
This also comes as technology is expected to spur growth under the Fourth Industrial Revolution and specifically for Zimbabwe, this will happen under the National Development Strategy (NDS1).
Mining is critical to the economic growth in Zimbabwe, as it generates more than three quarters of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency earnings and employs hundreds of thousands of people.
Speaking on a panel discussion during the recent Africa Mining Forum under the title “Operating in a Post Covid-19 World: Health and Safety Under scrutiny,” Liquid Intelligent Technologies’ chief business officer for the Southern African Region, Lorreta Songola said she was encouraged that mining in Africa were becoming more aggressive about seeking technological solutions to deal with the challenges they face.
“Mining firms have been tracking the number of worker injuries, frequency of incidences and many other matters mostly after the incidences have happened but now they are seriously considering implementing or putting in place technological systems that proactively monitor working conditions and other issues as a way of preventing or reducing incidences before they happen.
“They are now realising the need for having real time location services as a way of improving worker safety and also looking out for the communities that they operate within.
This in the long-term is not just good for business, but will lead to greater trust between them and their workers as well as the communities,” she said.
There have seen incidents of miners being trapped underground in Zimbabwe in recent years, at times with their bodies being discovered after protracted searches.
Ms Songola said while data was being collected in the mining companies, most are still relying on manual systems to collect, collate and analyse the data which is time-consuming.
“We are beginning to see conversations about how we can support them with such technologies that will manage information. These will help even with the storage of data, including personal data and integration of all the data under some synchronised system.
“Technology can assist with all this and these are conversations we are beginning to have which is a good thing.”
She added that in the future, mining was going to take a different approach — with the focus being on how to protect the information and data collected for the safety of all involved.
“We will be looking at how we protect the information that we collect — worker data, health, personal data and this is where we are.
“As Liquid we are saying what solutions can we offer and we will continue to engage as we go as I believe we certainly can assist each other.”