The top 5 mining trends to watch in 2023

The mining industry isn’t exactly famous for being ‘trend-led’ – new mining trends can be slow to emerge, but once they gain momentum, they tend to stick. That’s exactly what we’re seeing happen as we enter 2023. Some trends continue existing patterns, and some reflect the industry’s adoption of new approaches – driven by external change, such as rising energy costs and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read on for our top 5 mining trends to watch – from even more automation to re-mining the tailings of the 70s…

1. Automation is more important than ever

Automation in mining laboratory as part of mining trends in 2023

Miners already value automation for its ability to improve efficiency. Today, as ore grades decline, this is more important than ever. Supported by real-time and remote data analysis, automation helps miners to upgrade their processes and get more from their ore at brownfield sites, as well as new greenfield projects.

It’s at these new sites that automation will become particularly important this year. As high-quality ore gets scarcer, many miners are turning back to remote locations that they’d previously rejected. But these regions remain difficult to reach and to work in. Automated solutions can reduce the number of workers needed in these locations, increase safety and enable frequent monitoring of ore streams.

2. Green metals set to power the energy transition

‘Green metals’, such as copper, nickel, zinc lithium and aluminium, are crucial to master the energy transition. These materials are essential for products such as wind turbines, batteries,and electric vehicles. Mining companies will focus and invest on the exploration of new ore deposits of ‘green metals’ or to optimize the efficiency of existing mining operation and processing plants. This will go hand in hand with making existing operations more sustainable and net-zero.

3. The tailings of the 70s return

It’s not just the 70s fashion returning this decade – for many mining companies, their old tailings are too. These materials will typically have been discarded around 50 years ago, when it wasn’t worth the cost of extracting more from them. Today, however, even the small amounts of metal or rare earth elements remaining in these tailings are increasingly valuable – leading companies to revisit what they once considered waste.

4. Removing waste early with geometallurgy

The use of innovative technologies such as XRD or NIR to track mineralogy on one hand or the use of real-time analytical sensors allowing to monitor ore streams on conveyor belts or process liquors in pipes, miners can sort and track material streams in the mine or processing plant allowing them to get a more holistic overview of its content, remove waste early and predict the geometallurgical behavior during processing. Thanks to solutions like our CNA on-line elemental analyzers or the Epsilon Xflow on-line liquid analyzer, this process is now more efficient than ever – as such, it’s becoming an increasingly popular approach.

5. Processing more recycled materials

Raw materials in the conveyor belt

Finally, a bonus entry: this one happens a bit further downstream in the value chain, but we’re including it in our mining trends for the year! To increase production and cope with the demand, many companies start to process more and more secondary materials in their smelters. In turn, this is driving interest in on-line analysis of scrap and recycled materials on conveyor belts too.

How materials analysis can help shape mining’s future

While some regions are entering a post-pandemic world, many of the other drivers behind these mining trends continue. That means they’ll only become more important – and materials analysis has a key role to play in helping mining companies take full advantage of them, particularly when it comes to digitalization and automation. At Malvern Panalytical, we’re always here to help – get in touch to find out how our solutions can help you future-proof your mining operations.

To find out more about our mining solutions, visit our webpage, read more of our mining blogs, or register to our mailing list below.

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