Just behind us, a giant industrial magnet powered up with warning signs dotted about its perimeter so we wouldn't scramble our phones. Before long, John Durrell, a specialist in superconductor engineering (who took apart more machines as a teenager than he can remember), arrived with a set of tools in his hands and a glint in his eye.
There's no question that artificial intelligence and data analytics are reshaping the resources sector. These new technologies bring new challenges in the way companies consider risk, adapt to new ways of working and the skills needed for the future. These issues were the topic of conversation at a business roundtable lunch hosted by professional services firm Accenture in its new Perth Innovation Hub this week as part of the Resources Technology Showcase program of events. Invited guests, including leading policymakers and industry heavyweights, heard former SAS commander and Mettle Global managing partner Ben Pronk speak about the need to take calculated risks in the battlefield. He explained how the resources industry could adopt that philosophy to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution.
Rio Tinto's boss of ports and rail Ivan Vella says the increasing bank of data the industry is generating is the greatest untapped "enabler and disrupter" available to the sector as he reveals expanding artifical intelligence across the global miner's business. Mr Vella, managing director of port, rail and core services at Rio Tinto, told the Resources Technology Showcase today that as the miner had moved to remote operations and asset automation it had generated a huge amount of data across its business. "Today, we track everything, our team is swimming in an ocean of data, which will be crucial to ensuring the efficiency and ongoing health of autonomous assets and systems," he said. "Without a doubt, it is the greatest untapped enabler and disrupter available to our industry." Mr Vella highlighted in his speech, 'Project Tempo', which Rio developed with EY data and analytics, Monash University and Strukton Rail.
The firm has also developed a drone able to fly around the underground corridors of coal mines to detect gas emissions and other potential threats. Marcin Dziekanski, coordinator of the drone project of the Silesian metropolis, an alliance of more than 40 cities in the coal-mining Katowice region, said they use drones to monitor the smoke produced by coal-heated individual houses. "They fly over Katowice, over the buildings, as well as over other cities, enabling us to intervene, in cooperation with the city police, showing that we are monitoring our space, our environment," he told AFP, adding that "we are creating a set of good practices that we are sharing with others." Spartaqs considers itself above all a research firm looking into new technologies, though it has already sold a dozen drones--at an average price of 50,000 euros ($55,000) a pop--in Poland and Georgia. But the company has realised that buyers like the Saudis and the Americans, who are very interested in certain models, want to see "the plant where they are produced." So they have begun looking for investors, including abroad, who would like to participate in the development of a serial production line.
As I've been focusing more and more on the Big Data and Machine Learning ecosystem, I've found Azure Databricks to be an elegant, powerful and intuitive part of the Azure Data offerings. Over my last 12 months at Slalom, I have had the incredible opportunity to travel across Canada and work hand in hand with the brilliant folks at Microsoft's Data & AI practice and Databricks experts to lead project engagements, deliver technical hands-on workshops, listen to the industry experts - the folks doing Data Science for a full time living - and absorb everything in between. There's a common theme across the industry verticals that's going to be our point of discussion today. The hot topic of 21st century tech is Machine Learning - some flavor of AI/ML is thrown into almost everything we find these days (I'm pretty sure I spotted a "genius" AI/ML toothbrush at Shoppers Drug Mart today). The reality is, the mathematical techniques that power Machine Learning models have been around for almost a century.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are becoming key components of mineral exploration programs as companies set exploration targets. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have the ability to solve two of the mining industry's biggest challenges: rising exploration costs and a lack of new discoveries. After a heavy downturn in the past few years, the mining and mineral exploration sector is finally starting to recover, but deep challenges remain. In an industry that thrives on new discoveries, today's resource companies are finding it harder and more expensive to locate new deposits. Gold provides one of the greatest examples of this dearth of new discoveries in the face of rising exploration costs.
Always in motion is the future." We've spread out towards the stars and colonized the solar system, from settlements orbiting the glittering rings of Saturn, to sprawling cities on the red hills of Mars built by nano insects invisible to the eyes. When their big bellies are filled to bursting, they rocket along invisible superhighways, delivering He3 to energy hungry fusion micro-reactors that power the interplanetary economy. Beyond the rings, deep space mining ships release clouds of drones like baby spiders into the wind and they digest asteroids hurtling in the endless void. The drones fuel an unprecedented building boom on nearly every planet circling the sun, as city after city goes up on barren rocks long hostile to organic life. The fastest transformations are taking place on Mars. The people who immigrated to Mars generations ago don't need oxygen at all. They're genengineered to breathe the carbon dioxide saturated sky, though their lungs can switch back and forth between oxygen and CO2 as easily as flipping a light switch.
Shaywitz and Gibson make the implicit assumption that AI will be considered unproven by Biotech investors until assets picked by machines make it through clinical trials. But "not yet in the clinic" is too powerful an objection -- that benchmark would exclude many of the most exciting and best-funded biotech platform companies. To me, the more interesting questions are "Why do these platform companies get funded?" Because many of the most interesting therapeutic targets have zero lead compounds and are considered undruggable, the value of AI can be -- and has been! The clinic is a powerful conceptual and practical boundary, and so it is easy to assume that the IND divides drug discovery into an easy-and-cheap domain before and a difficult-and-expensive domain after.
Edge computing is helping Newcrest Mining improve throughput and reduce downtime in Australia's largest underground block cave mine, the Cadia Valley gold mine in New South Wales. Newcrest Mining won the best Primary Industry Project in our 2019 IoT Awards for the project, which uses machine learning to optimise the level of crushed ore in bins, preventing downtime. Now Microsoft and its partner Insight Enterprises have released details about the solution and its benefits. The solution is improving productivity, reducing downtime and increasing throughput, Newcrest Mining CIO Gavin Wood stated in a press release. And the company has seen a return on investment within three months of starting to use the solution.
Opportunities for digital technologies implementation, including implementation of artificial intelligence, are being implemented in the mining sector. Technologies help to save money and to solve problems that humans can't solve. McKinseyestimates that by 2035, the use of data analysis and digital technologies will help coal, iron ore, and copper producers save between $290 billion and $390 billion annually. Digital technologies and artificial intelligence enable companies to extract minerals in hard-to-reach places and under extreme weather conditions. This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 10, 2019 Read the full digimag here or subscribe to receive a print copy here This means that in an environment when mineral resources are becoming increasingly scarce, it is possible to develop deposits that used to be inaccessible, to do it without endangering lives of employees and to minimize human errors that often lead to costly mistakes.