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AI start-ups are tackling one of mining’s long-standing problems

AI Systems Photo:

*Kazakh gold miner is using AI at ore processing plant

*Industry is maturing as mining companies start to trust AI systems:, says Cambridge-based Company CEO

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As a strategy to resolve one of the oldest problems of mining activities, a Kazakh gold miner in a small town near Lake Balkhash is relying on artificial intelligence (AI) to predict when an ore mill is about to overload

Agency report indicates that JSC AK Altynalmas teamed up with British tech start-up, whose software uses sensors built into the plant to form a model of the grinding process and flag problems before they happen.

It was gathered that it’s an increasingly valuable feature as the company’s mines produce ore with lower levels of gold, putting additional strain on its processing operations.

Sam Bose, Chief Executive Officer of the Cambridge-based company which is part of the so-called Silicon Fen tech cluster in the United Kingdom (UK), said: “I think the industry is maturing in terms of understanding what our types of systems can do.

“We have seen mining companies start to trust these kinds of AI systems.”

Photo: Mining.Com

While slow to adopt AI in comparison with other sectors, the challenges of declining ore grades for metals including copper and gold is pushing more mining companies to take a closer look at technology.

Report says instead of spending more on exploration, start-ups such as are helping producers to maximise the metal extracted from the mines they already own.

The AI software can be adapted for other mining processes including drilling and water pumping.

It can also test out alternative scenarios without having to incur the risk and cost of altering a mine.

In July 2020, entered a partnership with BASF SE, the world’s largest chemical company, to create an AI-based model that can be applied across an entire mine.

That aims to optimise efficiencies from a single platform in six mining processes, including stockpile monitoring and pipeline pumping.

According to Bose, founded in 2014, AI can also help to monitor mining operations remotely, and shift workers away from potentially dangerous underground sites.

Technology from another Cambridge-based AI start-up, Conundrum, is being trialled at gold and coal sites in Russia and Australia, respectively.

Konstantin Kiselev, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, said that the company’s AI, which adjusts milling processes according to information from virtual sensors, would allow mining engineers to switch their focus from daily operations to longer-term strategy for optimising performance,

Kiselev stated: “A mine will become a place like an office, because you don’t need to be on site frequently.

“We will see it very soon, maybe in two to three years.”

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