Virtual twin technology could be a game-changer as the mining industry tackles its carbon challenges.
As the mining industry moves to decarbonize, opportunities are emerging for better design of equipment, ventilation systems and the mines themselves – improvements that could deliver significant safety, cost and productivity benefits across the value chain.
For instance, replacing diesel-powered equipment with electric-powered units reduces particulate levels, creating a safer environment for miners while reducing the need for – and cost of operating – ventilation systems. Meanwhile, electrifying a mine’s vehicle fleet creates an opportunity to automate it too. Automation radically reduces requirements for roadway widths, ramp steepness and equipment size and opens options for the type of energy used to power it. In turn, those changes may influence the choices for energy companies and equipment manufacturers that supply mines.
But mines face gaps in the availability of products that could help them decarbonize. Although investors have redirected their funds toward environmentally friendly operations, some mining executives and finance providers also remain unconvinced about the value of new solutions and processes.
How can we de-risk innovation so that all stakeholders can feel comfortable with the future they’re shaping. that the answer is not only obvious, but readily available: Computer simulations of new solutions allow mine operators and investors to virtually experience how these innovations will work before they are even built. Seeing is believing, and believing makes investing easier.
Virtual twin technology holds the key. With virtual twins – scientifically accurate computer simulations that precisely model both innovative equipment and operating conditions – innovators can test ideas in the virtual world before building or buying them in the real world. For mining companies, it means they can experience how a battery will work within their existing fleet of trucks, or what a battery electric vehicle fleet might mean for their mine design, workshop set-up, resource recovery and so on.
When decision-makers can experience what a change will look like and how it will affect their operation, they can confidently demonstrate that solution to the board or executive committee to justify and de-risk the investment. Virtual twins enable anyone who wants to understand a topic to experience it for themselves. They equip people to demonstrate outcomes to those who aren’t in the room or who have less technical expertise – from investors and executives to regulators and local communities.
As a member of the Electric Mine Consortium, Dassault Systèmes is proud to bring the mining industry our deep experience of applying this technology in sectors that include not just mining, but also industrial equipment, automotive and aerospace. By working together through organizations like the EMC, we can collectively identify the gaps in the industry’s net-zero mining picture and work with companies to co-create the solutions that will meet that need.
Now is the time for companies across the mining value chain to seize that opportunity. By working together, we can unleash new ideas and take the lead in something that is critical to our planet.
Michelle Ash, CEO, Dassault Systèmes GEOVIA
Read more about how companies throughout the mining value chain are collaborating to create sustainable solutions