Freeport-McMoRan and Komatsu Support Workforce Development Project Focused on AI

As the use of artificial intelligence (AI) increases in mining, operations are becoming safer and more efficient. These changes have led to an increased demand for a workforce that is trained to utilize these new technologies.

A $1.25 million grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the University of Nevada, Reno, will be used to fund a project that will find solutions to several challenges related to major safety and health issues in mining operations. This includes Automated Rockfall Risk Alert System for open-pit mines, Tailing Instability Risk Alert System, Explosive Energy Distribution Optimization System, Comprehensive Intelligent Exposure Monitoring System, Immersive Teleoperation of Mining Machines and Simulation-based Smart Evacuation of Underground Mines. The university has committed to graduating six doctoral and four master’s degree students associated with this project.

NMA member companies Freeport-McMoRan and Komatsu were among the industrial partners that developed the six proposed sub-projects. Freeport-McMoRan’s Innovation team also contributed to the project proposal.

AI in mining already has improved mineral recovery by 5 percent, increased productivity by 10 percent and achieved a 15 percent cost savings to mining operations. Companies are just beginning to tap the surface of AI’s potential in mining.

“Future mine engineers need to understand emerging technology like AI, drones and big data,” said Javad Sattarvand, University College of Science assistant professor of mining engineering and the project’s principal investigator. “We claim creating excellence in the workforce is the missing part of the chain, which would make mining engineers more aware of health and safety issues of the future.”