African mining industry embraces analytics to optimise operations

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The electricity crisis in South Africa and the rest of the continent has fuelled ongoing efforts by the mining industry to adopt emerging technology such as AI-based predictive analytics to optimise operations, bolster safety, and attract investors.

Mine production has dropped significantly in the wake of recent electrical-grid loadshedding. The problem has sparked calls for privatisation or liberalisation of the energy sector, opening up the possibility of mining industry enterprises establishing private power systems.

The possibility of big change in the sector has given mining enterprises a renewed sense of urgency to modernise and embrace emerging technology, judging from industry insiders at the recent 26th Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town

The South African government recognises that self-generation private power is key to closing the energy gap and is keen to allow mining companies to set up their own power projects, said Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s minister of mineral resources and energy, at the conference.

The sentiment was well-received. “Private power is going to help diversify the energy mix,” said Roger Baxer, CEO of Mineral Council South Africa.

Meanwhile, the energy crisis has put further pressure on mining enterprises to tap emerging technology to operate more efficiently, as a way of conserving energy, optimising costs and attracting investors to potentially fund expansion into power generation.

“The future of mining should promote Artificial Intelligence and data automation,” said Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio, who delivered a keynote address at Mining Indaba.

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