Gold and silver. Buildings and bridges and the cars that drive over them. The computer on your desk and the phone in your pocket. What do they have in common?
They’re made from minerals. We pull 18 billion metric tons of them from the earth every year. Iron ore becomes steel. Calaverite produces gold, and silver comes from argentite. Electronics need minerals called rare earths.
Getting those minerals out of the ground is hard, risky work. Companies invest millions before filling the first truckload of ore. Keeping the minerals moving takes never-ending attention to safety, efficiency and productivity.
That’s a job for automation. The mining industry is investing billions in making mines smarter with Internet of Things and asset tracking technology. Today’s mines use automated drills and self-driving trucks. Trackers monitor their location and operation. Automatic systems monitor air quality in tunnels and smart video surveillance can warn of dangerous conditions in advance.
All that smart technology has to be connected. And that’s a challenge. Most mines operate in remote places, far from communication networks. That’s why miners around the world turn to companies like Speedcast.
Satellite Saves Lives
Speedcast brings advanced connectivity to the world’s most out-of-the-way places. That means building networks in tunnels, across vast open pits, in offices and crew quarters – and connecting them to satellite, because it is the only kind of communication that goes everywhere on earth.
In the smart and connected mine, managers can see and understand the challenges their miners face. IoT systems share data with experts far away, who can advise on tough problems. Automated drills and trucks can work night and day while keeping people out of harm’s way.
And that saves lives. In the last decade, fatal accidents at mines around the world declined by nearly 20 percent even as miners worked 7 percent more hours.
Safer mines are greener, too, because good data helps them better manage mining waste. And when miners are off the clock, broadband brings them entertainment and connection to their homes.
When mineral ores are pulled from the ground, they begin a long journey. Shipped to factories, they are refined into the pure minerals that go into a million different products. Some even wind up in the equipment that will mine the next billion metric tons of ore. Smart mines make it possible, and satellite and information technology companies like Speedcast help them keep the minerals moving.
Produced for SpaceNews by Space & Satellite Professionals International. See more stories and videos of satellite making a better world at www.bettersatelliteworld.com.