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The mining industry and disruptive technologies

   

As we obtain lower and lower-grade ore, the mining industry has had to increase their extraction costs constantly over these past years. Thus it’s not odd that the mining industry had to invest in technological innovations in order to optimize their processes and reduce such costs, which improved the efficiency of operations.

The latest technological advances definitely have an impact on the value chain in the mining industry, which offers an exceptional value, not only to the mining company, but also every interest group that surrounds it: communities, authorities, etc.

One of the challenges this industry has solved is related to operations in remote locations. Given the typical hostility of the topography for the mining industry, there are often some cases where the equipment gets damaged which generates high costs during periods of inactivity, for it’s difficult to transport spares to the base of operations. The answer to that issue has been 3d printing, which allows us to create physical objects from a digital model.

While this technology is only in its first phase in the mining industry, it has all the potential to completely transform the logistics for maintenance in mining as it offers a great range of spare parts that could be printed in situ, and greatly cuts costs in transportation and stock.

Similarly, technologies such as 3D mapping and drones for topographic evaluation give us a whole different world for extracting activity, reducing operational costs by detecting the best areas for excavation beforehand. They also allow us to get caloric maps, real time mineral monitoring and other relevant data that makes decision making easier, improves efficiency, costs reduction and aids in achieving better risk management. This implies not only safer, but also more effective operations. Yet, the key for everything is to always make decisions on time.

 

Quantex on the right way

Inside this technological avalanche, we can also find Quantex Technology, EXSA’s creation that started as a disruptive solution as we faced one of the challenges that pushed our limits forward.

In 2012, EXSA faced a complicated situation. We were developing a petrochemical project to manufacture a low density ammonium nitrate, a fundamental component for open pit blasting. After great effort, we finally acquired the supply of Camisea natural gas for the project, but it was so expensive that it turned out to be non-viable. We had to make a decision quickly.

We created a “Crazy committee”, a multidisciplinary team that, after 12 months of investigation, developed Quantex Technology, with their main advantage, among many others, of not having the need for that kind of ammonium nitrate. Also, the novelty was to produce 18% less carbon footprint -avoiding the generation of brown smoke- and to generate more energy, which resulted in a greater fragmentation power. This turns into savings of up to 30% throughout the value chain of the mining company. We’re talking about millions of dollars. It’s also very versatile because it adapts to every kind of rock, generating a smaller granulometry on the fragmented rock, which means smaller pieces of rocks that are cheaper to be treated downstream, which results in a tremendous cost reduction versus the minimum price of the explosive mix itself, to the point that some mining companies that are already applying Quantex Technology have decided to increase their intake of the explosive mix, which has brought them great benefits.

This is just an example of what we can accomplish if we bet on innovation as a way to solve the challenges every industry is going to face. Innovation is a win-win.

 
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20 december, 2017

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