In Mexico, mining companies invest less than 0.8 percent of their capital in new technologies to drive their processes, with the figure standing at US$44.5 million, the Mexican Chamber of Mining (CAMIMEX) said.
The incorporation of new technologies has proven to be essential for companies to improve their productivity. Nonetheless, the mining industry seems to be reluctant to implement these changes. It is believed that just over 33 percent of the mines in Mexico have a computer with an internet connection, worrying numbers for industry insiders who argue that the implementation of technology like 5G networks could reduce accidents by 20 percent and increase productivity by 10 percent.
According to Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson, the combination of a 5G network with tools like telemetry, satellite geo-localization and remote operation systems remarkably improves mining operations, since workers gain access to real-time information while on the ground. Fernán Izquierdo, Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Latin America, Ericsson, said that via Smart Mining, also known as Mining 4.0, workers will not have to go physically underground, making mining operations more secure as well.
One of the main challenges to adopting new technologies in the mining industry is that most of the projects are developed in remote areas that often suffer from lacking infrastructure and connectivity. For this reason, most activities are carried out manually. Nonetheless, higher productivity and improved safety are great incentives for companies. “Technology helps us to strengthen our security policy, which for modern and responsible mining is essential. The automatization that the 5G network offers will give us higher security rates in our operations,” said Karen Flores, Directo General, CAMIMEX.
According to Izquierdo, the implementation of the 5G network will also contribute to making the industry more environmentally friendly, as it will lead to a considerable decrease in energy consumption in line with the Paris Agreement's commitments. “When we automate mining, we do not just increase production but also reduce fuel consumption because automating vehicles reduces gasoline consumption by 30 percent. A smart ventilation system can reduce energy consumption up to 60 percent,” Izquierdo added.
On Aug. 29, 2022, MBN reported that Industrias Peñoles invested significantly in digitalizing its operations to strengthen safety conditions in its mines after the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) authorized the company to use the 148-174 MHz frequency band for five years in its mines located in Durango, Chihuahua, Sonora and Zacatecas.