Charles Nyabeze, vice president of business development at the Center for Excellence in Mining Innovation, discusses how data, blockchain and other technology are poised to disrupt the mining sector in a positive way.
At this year’s Mines and Money Americas conference in Toronto, the Investing News Network had the chance to talk to Charles Nyabeze, vice president of business development at the Center for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI).
Located in Sudbury, widely considered the nickel capital of Canada, CEMI is an ally to the mining sector, designed to facilitate better ore discovery and analyze environmental impacts, mine productivity and commercial viability.
Helping underground miners enhance their projects is only one of the areas CEMI works in. As Nyabeze pointed out, the organization is also committed to introducing miners to the innovations and technologies that are reshaping the mining sector and what it means to extract materials from the Earth.
“I think we’re going to use more data, we’re going to take advantage of that data. And as we do that, we will be able to extract more value out of operations,” explained Nyabeze.
He continued, “what that means is we’re going to be able to get to the orebody faster, we’re going to be able to mine it sooner and we’ll be able to reduce the cost we do it.”
Watch the interview above or read the transcript below for more insight from Nyabeze, including his advice to miners looking to leverage technology to their advantage. You can also click here to view our full Mines and Money Americas interview playlist on YouTube.
INN: Can you tell us a little about what the Center for Excellence in Mining Innovation does?
CB: Yes. So the Center for Excellence in Mining Innovation is a center for excellence for innovation. So what we do is we find innovations that the mining industry needs, and then we distribute those innovations into the mining industry. But we particularly look for innovations that are new, and that have never been tried out. And we look for solution providers who need help to put those innovations forward, and then we help them with those innovations from where they are, into the industry.
INN: Which sectors and resources do you work with?
CB: Mining. We’re strictly mining. Actually, our area of expertise is underground mining, that’s where we specialize.
INN: How has innovation reshaped the mining space?
CB: Wow. It’s safer. We’re able to get to the orebody faster. We’re able to get to the orebody sooner. And also we’re able to get to the orebody in a cheaper way. So I’ll say those are the three ways that it’s really shaped the industry.
INN: There’s been a common misconception that mining is anti-innovation. How is the Center for Excellence in Mining combating this?
CB: Well, you know. Look, mining has changed from the times when we used to use donkeys and horses to haul the ore out of the mine. Now we’re using mechanized equipment. And also, what we’re doing is we’re actually using equipment that is electric, from diesel. So mining has been very innovative.
You know, one of the areas where maybe we’ve lacked innovation is how we use data. So now we are a lot better with how we use data. We’re actually starting to take advantage of all the trillions of gigabytes that we collect to get value out of them. So I would say that mining is innovative. It’s just been slow in some areas, but certainly it is by no means not innovative.
INN: You mentioned data. How are blockchain and the IoT going to help reshape the mining space?
CB: I’ll look at them from two perspectives. So with the IoT, what’s happening there is there’s a lot of things in the mining industry that were not connected that are now being connected. So we’re connecting the unconnected.
And with blockchain, what it does for us is it introduces a level of trust that we didn’t have before in terms of how information flows within the supply chain. So that’s how those two things are disrupting mining. Trust has been introduced with blockchain, and there’s connecting the unconnected with the IoT.
INN: Which mining innovations are you particularly excited about?
CB: You know what? I’m really excited about liquid air and what we can do with it, because liquid air is one of those energy sources that enables to us to cool the mine down, and at the same time, being able to extract energy out of it to drive equipment. So that liquid air technology is one that I think is going to make the biggest impacts in mining.
INN: And what do you see moving forward into 2019 and beyond when it comes to innovation in the mining space?
CB: I’ll say data. In the short term, we’re going to use more and take advantage of data. You know, yesterday I asked the question of some of the mining industry operators that were in the room. The question I asked was, “how much of the data that you collect today are you actually utilizing?”
And the answer was really not an answer at all because no one really knows. So over the next year and a bit, I think we’re going to use more data, we’re going to take advantage of that data. And as we do that, we will be able to extract more value out of operations, allowing it to be more productive. What that means is we’re going to be able to get to the orebody faster, we’re going to be able to mine it sooner and we’ll be able to reduce the cost we do it. Meaning that we can actually mine at a cheaper cost.
INN: Now, we were talking a little bit earlier about how different sectors are coming together, like cobalt and blockchain, for example. Do you see any other sectors coming together in the future and incorporating innovation?
CB: Well, I’ll say that trustability of minerals is going to really play a big role in taking advantage of blockchain technologies. Because if you think about it, a day may come when you actually ask yourself the question, “where did the metal that’s in my cell phone come from?”
You may ask the question, “I’m driving an electric car, but where did the copper come from?” So with blockchain and the trustability of minerals, that’s going to make a big impact on mining.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in contributed article. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.