IoT and Sustainable Development in the Mining Industry

Karen St. George, VP Marketing
04/12/2018

In April, we are taking a closer look at the impact IoT has on sustainable development. Mining is one sector where marked improvements have been made as the result of networks of connected devices and systems. With more stringent regulations and a growing demand for corporate social responsibility, many mining companies are making aggressive strides to minimize their environmental impact.

One study found that 47 percent of mining companies list environmental monitoring as their top IoT priority. This is especially encouraging, given the possibility of soil, ground water, and surface water contamination that can occur. Remote monitoring of environmental statuses via networks of IoT sensors is one of the biggest breakthroughs helping mining companies to identify immediate impacts and long-term trends their mines are having on the environment.

Sustainable Development in Tailings Dam Monitors

The use of IoT sensor networks on tailings dams is a prime example of how connectivity is promoting greater environmental awareness and sustainability. The leftover, sand-like rock fragments that remain after ore separation are called tailings, which are deposited into a manmade pond near the mine.

The body of water is then held in place by a tailings dam, which serves two purposes: containing tailings from the ore-milling and separation process and recycling the water to be reused in processing.

Keeping these byproducts in place is critical to protecting the surrounding environment. Through IoT sensors around a tailings dam, levels of potential contaminants can be calculated and the integrity of the dam itself can be continuously monitored – which is critical to keeping tailings contained at all times.

By gathering tailings dam data via IoT-powered applications, mining companies can quickly identify and respond to potential environmental breaches without actually having to be on site. Using manual methods, such incidents may not be spotted as easily and as early – if at all. As a result, breaches may not be spotted until they reach potentially dangerous levels.

Thanks to IoT sensor networks, mining companies can work quickly to contain prevent these incidents from exacerbating.

New Capabilities of IoT in the Mining Industry

But IoT deployments in mining operations are not simply an equal replacement of old best practices – these new developments enable new capabilities that did not previously exist. Through connected sensors, mining organizations can centralize monitoring of mines across multiple geographies at all times, keeping a more accurate watch on operations.

Further, the data collected via IoT can be used to pinpoint trends over time, which will give companies the insight they need to expand environmental sustainability efforts.

As the demand for more earth-friendly practices by mining companies increase, IoT is helping the industry to achieve sustainable development goals – both environmentally and economically. Learn more about how KORE can assist your organization in its IoT deployment.

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