In the 19th century, a rush of diamond and gold mining took off in South Africa, jumpstarting the economy of the area. Even though these precious gems and ores are no longer South Africa’s largest boon, many other minerals have stepped up to fill the gap.
There’s a lot more technology to mining than may initially meet the eye. Machine technology carries out the actual mining process while computer software handles the business side of things. There are also highly advanced sorting technologies, as well as digital softwares that take care of a lot of planning and legwork.
But all this technology has not made the industry complacent. Mining companies in South Africa are aware of the necessity of innovation. New technologies and new applications of emerging technologies are rising up in the industry, poised to take mining in South Africa to the future. Here are three particularly exciting ones.
When it’s boiled down to its basic elements, mining is simply extracting minerals and other precious deposits from the larger rocks that house them. But doing so is cumbersome, expensive, and dangerous. With the advent of new radar technologies, companies are poised to get a good glimpse inside these rocks before they commit to the mining process. The time, money and resources this planning technology provides can be invaluable.
2. Digital programming
Computer games may have been around since the 70’s, but they’re still a relative newcomer to the business world. South African mining executives are starting to dabble in simulation games as a means of upping their efficiency and management skills. To compete in a global world, South African companies need to make the most of every advantage, and having a digital version of their mines available to test out ideas with is looking to be one such tool.
3. Explosion alternatives
Despite having the largest gold deposits in the world, South Africa is relatively low on the list of gold production — Number 7, to be exact. And while that rank is good, it could be a lot better. Part of South Africa’s problem is the necessity of explosive gold mining equipment. Many closed or abandoned mines still have plenty of gold ore left. They’ve been left behind, however, because the deposits are in too close of formations to survive the explosions.
But innovations in new extraction technologies could prove to be a major boon for the industry. Chipping, cutting or drilling into rock without the need for explosions may be the single most important mining innovation yet.
An industry of innovation
With the mining industry occupying such an important space in the South African economy, there’s no room for mining technology to stagnate. Mining methods and equipment have to progress with time to keep the industry relevant and carry it into future decades and onto the international stage. Mining may seem like a primitive task, but at its core are high end computers and custom software technology that continue to evolve.
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