Artificial intelligence, drone technology, laser scanning and data collection are among the technologies that continue to drive the world forward, touching our daily lives in ways that both seen and unseen. In mining’s case, this new technology presents amazing opportunities for growth and improvement in safety, security and productivity as well as significant challenges in how to keep up with the changes and effectively take advantage of the rapid advancements.
For the first time, SME presented a one-day symposium dedicated to the technologies and innovative thoughts that mining industry must embrace in order to Thrive and spent one day discussing many aspects of the current state of mining.
The one-day conference called “THRIVE 2018, Innovations Advancing Mining” was held on Sept. 27 at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square in Pittsburgh, PA ahead of SME’s Midyear meeting.
More than 100 people were on hand for the inaugural event and were treated to a unique program that focused on the cutting edge technologies that will carry the mining industry into the future while increasing safety and productivity as it addresses the many challenges the industry is expected to face in coming years.
2018 SME President Barb Arnold is the driving force behind the conference and put together the technical program with a focus on creating a forum that will help the industry advance.
“We need to adapt new technologies to our industry and develop additional technologies as we provide materials and metals for infrastructure and energy development in the United States, around the globe, and to the Moon and beyond,” Arnold told Mining Engineering. “Our inaugural THRIVE conference sets the stage for these innovations to be applied and to continue to be developed. Our mining industry can only continue to THRIVE with these advances.”
Eric Reiners, program manager – automation & autonomy STLF, Caterpillar kicked the conference off with a keynote address focused on Caterpillar’s work with NASA and how the Caterpillars’ expertise in mining and infrastructure could help create new opportunities on the Moon and Mars.
Autonomous mining and mining beyond the traditional borders was a consistent theme at THRIVE as attendees were treated to presentations about undersea mining, horizontal drilling to reach extremely deep coal deposits and the use of drones in flooded mines.
Above all else, safety was part of every presentation
Jessica Kogel, 2013 SME President and current associate director for mining, National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) chaired the first session of the day titled, “Above all safety.”
The session included talks about tapping into the power of the Internet of Things to move closer to the development of through-the-earth communications that could provide a survivable link from the surface to the inner workings of an underground mine. The session also included talks about drone technology and the challenges and perhaps, most importantly, how to integrate technology with the human element.
THRIVE will continue next year ahead on the 2019 SME Midyear meeting.