Digital Twin will become an important tool for the mining industry to realize ESG

Jeff Hamilton, senior director of brand strategy and alliance of Dassault Systems, said that digital twinning technology uses software to reconstruct physical entity models to help mining enterprises stay at the center of sustainable supply chain and realize the traceability of minerals from mines to end uses.

Hamilton said, "Digital twinning technology can also help mine operators identify high-energy consumption production processes and accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Digital twinning is extremely important for all production operations to realize digitalization, which not only allows users to make the best economic decisions, but also has important significance in health, safety and environment. The ultimate long-term goal is to protect the entire existing natural resources around the mined natural resources from the perspective of circular economy Ecosystem. "

According to Hamilton, achieving the above goals can create huge economic value. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stakeholders can take many measures, including tracing specific mineral products or iron ore from the mining site to the concentrator and to other application or processing sites.

Digital twinning technology can be used to improve the efficiency of the supply chain and reduce the carbon emissions of the supply chain. Martin Provencher, industrial commissioner of the Mining and Metals Division of AVEVA, agrees with this view. He said, "The application of digital twinning is not limited to the technological process of mines, but also can be used to promote the flow of mineral products in the value chain. In the whole process of mineral products from mines to ports, there are many opportunities to optimize production and operation through the application of digital twinning technology. Although the implementation of digital twinning technology can have their own unique patterns, regardless of the mining method, the final strategy of implementing digital twinning technology is very similar. The technology is Mine operators offer similar advantages. The application of digital twin technology in the mining industry can achieve environmental, social and corporate governance objectives, such as reducing the energy consumption of the entire mining process. This technology also has many application opportunities in crushing and grinding processes and in improving the reliability of equipment. Applying digital twinning to improve the simulation of the process can reduce the consumption of various consumables such as process water, beneficiation agent and flocculant. By using the information obtained from digital twinning technology, mine operators have the opportunity to monitor the emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide more closely, and reduce the generation of these gases by making more informed decisions. We can apply digital twinning technology in the production process of upstream raw materials (including ore feeding by concentrators) and final products, as well as in the transportation process of products from ports to manufacturers and end users. "

In the report titled "Net Zero Emission Labor Force: Mining and Metals" issued in July 2021, Deloitte pointed out that mining enterprises can remotely apply digital twin technology for exploration, equipment troubleshooting and project planning and design without adverse impact on the environment. The application of digital twinning technology in rock drilling and blasting design and digital simulation of mine service life plan can help mine operators improve resource prediction, distribution, monitoring and management. According to the report, this can improve data management, accuracy and efficiency. Creating digital twins and virtual models and making work plans require a series of new and unique capabilities, including critical thinking, data visualization and proactive decision-making based on predictive analysis.

In January 2021, Dassault Systems cooperated with Accenture, an information technology service and consulting enterprise, and prepared the report "Accelerating Sustainability Performance by Using Digital Twins". According to the report, digital twin technology can promote sustainability and circular economy rapidly and on a large scale. The report predicts that by 2030, Digital Twin will likely add a total of 1.3 trillion US dollars in economic value and reduce 7.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. In addition, the report said that digital twin technology can accelerate the time to market of products and reduce the risk of complex projects. The report also pointed out that 85% of the global electric vehicle development has applied digital twinning technology, and the global electric vehicle market size in 2020 is 5.4 billion dollars.

Impact of COVID-19

Provincher agrees with the above view. On the impact of the epidemic on innovation, Provencher said, "The COVID-19 has raised the awareness of every enterprise, including mining enterprises, on digital technology. In the past, remote operation was not a priority, but now it has become a technology urgently needed by many mining enterprises, partly because workers have to choose remote work. As workers become more skilled in remote work and collaboration in virtual environments, the entire mining industry Industrial enterprises will increasingly recognize the value of digital twins. "

Challenges to technology implementation

In 2021, a paper entitled "Digital Twins: From Origin to Future" from Limerick University pointed out that the real potential of digital twin technology is still "hidden behind the fog of its future form". According to the paper, digital twins will develop in parallel with other intelligent technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and big data. The paper also predicts that in six years, the global market size of digital twins in various industries will grow by 58% to reach 48.2 billion dollars by 2026, of which the COVID-19 will be a key driving factor, because more enterprises will consider digitalization. However, the paper also mentioned that there are still many obstacles in the process of implementing digital twin technology, which may be related to engineering, technology or business. In addition, there are also some other problems in the definition of digital twins, as well as the lack of international rules and regulations on data. The paper points out that one of the biggest challenges in the implementation of digital twin technology is the high implementation cost. In addition, deploying digital twins is a time-consuming and laborious work, which makes it an expensive investment.

Hamilton believes that "although the cost may be high, the digital twin technology can be implemented in mines of all sizes, so it will not become the exclusive technology of large mines." When asked how to deploy the digital twin in small-scale mines, Hamilton said, "I may first ask you what problems you must solve. I may ask what value can be added. For example, let's first consider a few questions, set up a project that can be managed from the perspective of cost, and set a series of clear tasks for the project that can add value."

Provencher also said that, "When implementing the digital twin technology, enterprises should adopt a strategy of gradual implementation. Therefore, enterprises should first identify which production operations have caused obstacles or challenges to enterprises, such as high energy consumption or high temperature chamber gas emissions. The implementation of the digital twin depends on four key factors, namely, high-quality data reflecting the equipment, process or operation status; the accuracy of the prediction model for the future status of equipment; and update the figures based on new data Twin comprehensive closed-loop method; A visual method for obtaining the basis of action decision based on digital twins. In order to successfully realize all the vision of digital twins, mine operators need a comprehensive data management strategy and the necessary application and visualization platform to meet the requirements of all the above factors. "