Mining – a new hi-tech sector

IT skills at the heart of modern mining

The arrival of digital technology such as wi-fi and optical fibre has transformed mining.

Historically, mining jobs were only for the physically fit who could work underground. Not anymore. Today, IT skills are highly sought after because virtually every aspect of mining is digitised, controlled or monitored remotely.

As a new mine, Dalradian’s project is designed around this new technology and a computerised control room will provide real time information about employees, equipment and all aspects of operations including safety, environment and production.

For example, thanks to personal equipment worn by every miner, the surface control room will know to within 15m where everyone is working underground. Miners lamps will contain a personal ‘proximity switch’ that will advise when equipment is close and automatically turn off heavy equipment operating nearby. It will also control the ventilation system to ensure it runs more efficiently.

Machinery is highly automated and digitised too and in many instances can be controlled remotely from either underground or the surface. This means that anyone who can control a keyboard or joystick and use a screen has the potential to be a miner operator.

Environmental Benefits

All of this is incredibly beneficial for creating a safe workplace, but it’s also great news for the environment. Digitisation allows machinery to work more efficiently using less energy. Automation and electrification also mean less reliance on diesel engines and Dalradian is applying these and other measures such as offsetting to become Europe’s first carbon neutral mine.

Northern Ireland-based firms such as Sandvik, Caterpillar, Powerscreen and CDE Global are already leading the way in manufacturing leading edge mining and quarrying equipment. Together, our vision is to create a centre of excellence and create new opportunities from this hi-tech sector.

Of course, great technology still needs great people and we will be hiring 350 colleagues and delivering an initial £15m training programme when construction of the mine begins.


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