Mining automation also known as automated mining removes humans from hazardous mining process. Mining automation automates the mining process for both surface and underground mining operation. Through mining automation it is possible to run underground mines 27/7 which increase productivity while reducing cost. Mining automation also improves worker’s safety. European Union (EU) through its Horizon 2020 and SPARC program is focusing on autonomous underground mining. SPARC program of EU is a public-private partnership (PPP) model between euRobotics and European Commission which an objective to make Europe leader in civilian robotics technology which includes mining automation.
SPARC is the largest research and development program in robotics technology in the world. SPARC program has received of
US$ 823 (1Euro=US$ 1.18) Million funding from European Community for 2014-2020 and three times that fund from European industry (US$ 2.5 Billion) for a total investment of ~US$ 3.3 Billion. Mining automation including autonomous underground mining is one of key focus areas of the SPARC program. This is driving the mining automation market in Europe. Safety of mine workers is also of paramount importance in developed and emerging countries. Mining automation which includes the use of robotics technology executes mining operation in hazardous environment ensuring worker’s safety. One of the major mining automation firms Caterpillar based in the U.S. is expanding its mine-automation program. Use of robotics technology is also driving the mining automation market in North America and Europe. Mining firms are focused on increasing productivity of mining operations and reduce operational cost which is subsequently increasing the demand for mining automation.
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A major restraint for adoption of automation in mining industry in emerging and developing countries is its huge number of working population. Mining automation reduces human involvement in mining process is expected to lead unemployment problems in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan), Middle East and Africa and South America. The cost of labor is low in emerging and developing countries. All these factors act as a restraint for adoption of mining automation in those regions.Global mining automation market can be segmented based on type, technique and geography.
The market when segmented by type are equipment, software and communication systems. Through mining automation equipment, operators in remote control room, monitor the movements of unmanned trucks or loaders below the surface. The market when segmented by technique are underground mining and surface mining. Underground mining refers to various mining technologies use to excavate ores containing lead, tin, nickel, zinc, copper, iron, silver, gold among othets. Surface mining also known as open-pit mining in which minerals are mined by removing soil and rock covering the minerals.