Top Seven Innovations in Connected Mining: Mass Improvements in Yield, Economics and Safety

The mining industry is at a turning point due to increasingly complex challenges that will be addressed through the adoption of connected mining strategies. These new challenges have made it imperative that the industry as a whole must innovate, kicking off a shift to process-oriented operations and connected solutions. The rapid rise of digital transformation has forced the mining industry to upgrade, and now connected mining applications are adding ease and optimization to operations and productivity.

For mining enterprises, there are a plethora of technologies and solutions that can help create a smarter mining operation. Digital innovations can not only provide solutions to the existing problems but also radically transform mining processes, increasing efficiency, profitability, and the ability to comply with stricter regulations.

With so much technology available, mining organizations must ensure that they aren’t just adopting everything, but adding and implementing technology that can truly make a difference on job sites. Here are the top seven tech innovations that can aid mining enterprises in improving efficiency.

GIS Systems

GIS stands for geographic information systems, and is for the most part, a brother technology to GPS. The technology creates geospatial data that depicts an object’s shape, size, and location, which can be essential in helping miners discover geographic relationships on the job site and determine how they impact the environment.

Because GIS technologies allow mining enterprises to visualize such data, it provides organizations with the ability to gain insights into their real-life mine environments and systems. This enables mining organizations to facilitate mineral exploration, geochemical and hydrology information, and regulatory compliance, among other important datasets.

CSS Technology

Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse, or CHIRP, technology is commonly applied to sonar, radar and laser systems, but CHIRP spread spectrum (CSS) is what can really truly impact the mining industry. CSS is a long-range radio-frequency technology for wireless communication that can be leveraged to detect and track the location of people, assets, and devices both in and outdoors, across large-scale facilities. For the mining sector, CHIRP and CSS technology can improve communications and coordination in mine operations, and reduce the risk of accidents. 

This is because CHIRP real-time location systems (RTLS) offer resistance to RF interference and reliability from its ISM-band 2.4 GHz, making it useful for miner tracking, creating safety zones and collision avoidance systems. By tagging workers, equipment, and vehicles, it makes worker search and rescue and employee mustering more efficient, while also allowing teams to be alerted if anyone is near a hazardous zone, allowing them to take quick action. 


Along with GIS and CHIRP, drones can offer mining organizations the ability to get a better view of the terrain in which they work. Often used to survey and map out areas, remotely piloted drones can allow miners to take images of open-pit mines and quarries, and then use photogrammetry software to generate 3D renderings with these images, making realistic topographical maps and digital terrain models to monitor site changes over time.

Drones can also be used to measure inventory, create time-lapse operation records, and manage business assets. For example, stockpiles often create complications for mining companies due to their changing areas and heights, which make it challenging to estimate their volume. However, drones can resolve this issue by flying over stockpiles and using advanced software to quickly calculate measurements and models.

Operational Intelligence

Operational Intelligence (OI) offers enterprises the ability to gather real-time insights and initiate data-based decision making. For the mining industry, this translates into digitizing dynamic assets to visualize behavior, aggregate, and generate recommendations based on historical and real-time insights.

The Industrial IoT is a prominent method for deriving OI through the connected devices, sensors and analytics that make up IIoT solutions. Mining organizations can leverage IIoT to automate processes and solve problems through enhanced data analytics. Sensor input readings on equipment, vehicles, workers, air quality and other key data sources on a job site can all help improve working conditions and boost productivity.

Digital Twin

Being virtual replicas of physical assets, systems and processes, a digital twin can create simulated models that provide life-like experiences without any safety risks. connected mining operators can use a digital twin to create accurate estimates for drilling, crushing and extraction work, and by simulating equipment workers can test new process methodologies and predict maintenance needs.


Automation and artificial intelligence can lend enablement tools to many of the other innovations on this list, and also several solutions unique to mining. For example, autonomous vehicles can perform underground excavations while workers use remote controlled tools and cameras from safe distances, above ground. Some mining organizations are moving toward fully autonomous mining systems that will be able to carry out tasks automatically or with minimal external control.

On the software side, advanced data analysis through AI can allow mining enterprises to identify patterns in data sets, leading to predictable and preventative maintenance and planning systems.

Worker Safety

Wearable technologies for workers include RFID personnel tracking, video for field maintenance and real-time machine inspection instructions, and operator-based care and safety. Wearables can significantly improve response times in the event of an emergency, because operators and staff can be immediately notified when any incident happens, and can minimize potential for some accidents by restricting access to potentially dangerous areas.

Smart mining technology market revenue reached $2.1 billion in 2021, and it is predicted to reach $9 billion by 2032, as demand grows at a CAGR of 14.3 percent over the assessment period. These numbers come as no surprise, as the mining industry begins to fully realize the untapped potential digital transformation has for the sector. For companies within the mining sector that pioneer a digital approach, connected mining can offer remarkable capabilities, which benefit all parties involved in the mining process.

Matt Vulpis

Matt Vulpis is a fresh out of college writer/journalist, already with a myriad of published articles across a variety of topics and industries. He is very passionate about writing, as well as sports, and television/film. While he enjoys writing articles pertaining to business tech, he wants to one day write a TV show as a head screenwriter. He has a bachelors in journalism with a minor in sports studies from Quinnipiac University.

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