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AIMing towards the future

Artificial intelligence (AI) experts and researchers from within and outside the industry descended on Montreal Wednesday morning to attend the Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) AI in Mining Forum at the 2019 CIM Convention. University researchers from the Montreal AI ecosystem presented alongside mining operators and software providers in front of a crowd eager to learn how they could leverage AI to boost their bottom line.

A recent survey by the World Economic Forum found that over 69 per cent of mining companies currently use some form of machine learning, making the industry a leader in the adoption of the technology. However, most companies are thinking too tactically when it comes to implementing AI, according to Jenny Hul of Element AI, and are simply exploring ways to automate tasks. “When you’re thinking about opportunities to improve your mining [operations] and ways to leverage AI more strategically, frame your thinking of opportunities and capabilities around augmentation versus automation, roles versus tasks, and decisions versus predictions,” said Hul.

Teck Resources is one of those companies exploring the applications of AI in mining. Mohammad Babaei, digital mining innovation lead at the company, said he believes a mining company needs to combine three components to achieve a successful AI strategy: capture data through sensing technology across the value chain, analyze that data using AI software, and make a strategic decision based on the analysis. “Without that top layer, which I call the ‘action layer,’ we won’t be able to get anything,” said Babaei. “You need to convert that prediction into an action.”