New Forces at Work in Mining: Industry Views of Critical Technologies

New Forces at Work in Mining: Industry Views of Critical Technologies

New Forces at Work in Mining: Industry Views of Critical Technologies

New Forces at Work in Mining: Industry Views of Critical Technologies


The results of a series of in-depth discussions with leading representatives of 58 mining and quarrying firms, equipment manufacturers, research institutions, and other organizations selected for their prominent position in the industry and their ability to think broadly about technology trends. These trends include adoption of information technologies and optimization of mining operations and equipment; the use of information and communications technologies to more closely integrate mine operations; improved maintenance technologies and practices; and gradual implementation of technologies for operator assistance, remote control, and automation. The discussions highlighted the importance of collaborative technology research, development, and implementation strategies and the increasingly critical role of mine personnel in the utilization of new technologies.


In the preceding chapters, we have presented executives' and managers' views on critical-technology trends in the mining and quarrying industry. in this concluding chapter, we build on these perspectives and draw several implications for public- and private-sector mining-technology research, development, and diffusion in the future.

The diversity of the mining industry

Many of the technology trends presented in this report apply to all segments of the mining industry. Yet the industry is diverse, and there are some important differences between the major players and the ways in which they affect critical-technology trends.

The metals segment differs from other sectors in its strong dependence upon exploration and acquisition of the best ore bodies and in its greater globalization of operations. Metals producers thus spoke the most about international technology trends and lessons to be gained from abroad. Despite present low metals prices, product demand remains high, and hence increasing productivity and lowering cash costs remain fundamental goals. Metals producers tend to be investing more heavily than other mining-industry firms in complex and advanced technologies such as dispatch systems, high-precision equipment positioning, and super-size equipment. in the future, metals producers are likely to spearhead the implementation of advanced remote-controlled and automated equipment.

“The primary concerns of the coal industry are regulatory reform, coal utilization, and energy policy.”

Coal-company executive . . .

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