What We Cover
The Mining venue is focused on extracting and preparing ore, coal, metallic minerals and nonmetallic minerals. The industry is segmented into Under Ground and Surface mining segments, with machine applications for digging & drilling, sediment and material handling as well as crushing and material processing. In addition to the equipment and devices deployed in mines, automation and control equipment including motors, drives, controllers, sensors, and instruments are critical to mining operations.
Key smart systems and services applications in the mining industry center on machine monitoring to ensure equipment uptime to reduce costs associated with failure, employee tracking and safety solutions given the danger associated with these environments as well as an increasing amount of automation intended to achieve “lights out” fully automated mining processes.
Harbor’s Mining Outlook
Surface mining is historically more capital intensive, while the underground sector tends to invest more in automation due to more labor-intensity. Given this cost discrepancy, open-pit mining extraction is more prevalent in developed, mature mining markets. Because of the significant costs, effort and planning required to start up an underground mine, these sites tend to really more on heavy sophisticated equipment that utilize a high degree of automation.
To remain competitive during market cycles when supply outstrips demand, players in the mining arena must drive more efficiency and reduce costs. With steep fluctuations in commodities pricing, mining companies have increasingly turned to smarter systems, reassessment of mining methods, fleet upgrades and investment in automated equipment to enable more configurable and flexible systems, all of which are aimed fending off the operational impacts of volatile commodity markets.
The shift towards increased safety standards has led to more technically advanced solutions as mines seek to bolster their safety records. For most mining companies in developed countries, safety is of critical importance and has become ingrained into corporate philosophy.
The industry is highly consolidated; the top four companies accounted for as much as 40+% of the Top 40 companies’ accrued revenues in recent years. The top 40 mining companies tend to have broader mineral diversification, particularly in copper, coal, iron ore, and nickel.
In recent years, many major mining companies have encountered difficulties in recruiting qualified engineers, which in some ways is a generational issue. Retention of qualified personnel has become a major factor for most mining operations that are increasingly leveraging investments in automation and remote monitoring to do more with less.
Because of their access to capital, larger mines have moved more aggressively into smart systems technology and applications. The ability to manipulate high-value equipment like loaders and drills from remote locations is also tied to a desire for enhanced worker safety.
As more devices come online, we foresee the main issues that mining companies will be having to address in the coming years stemming from network connectivity. In remote sites with an increasing number of devices connected to the same network, companies will begin investing heavily in next generation industrial network technologies in an effort to maintain uptime and availability amongst a growing number of mission-critical devices and machines.
Surface Mining Channel Structure