Thomas Leurent, CEO, Akselos
- The mining industry is indispensable to the energy transition. Demand for raw materials for clean energy technologies will increase exponentially as the transition progresses.
- Mining companies face several challenges to get the most out of their equipment to maximise output, including ageing infrastructure and a need for more visibility into asset health.
- Advanced simulation technology can avoid unplanned infrastructure shutdowns, increase safety and extend asset lifespan, driven by a highly detailed understanding of asset health in full compliance with industry standards.
The mining industry is vital in the global shift towards net-zero emissions by 2050. Clean energy technologies require vast amounts of raw materials, including copper, iron ore, lithium, and nickel, all of which must be extracted from mines. For example, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired plant.
Demand for these essential minerals will increase fourfold by 2040 as we transition to a net-zero future. At the same time, there is not enough mining capacity to deliver the raw materials needed for the transition. We need an additional 50 lithium, 60 nickel and 17 cobalt mines by 2030 to meet global net emission pledges, and it takes an average of 16.5 years for a mine to move from discovery to first production.
Source: The Role of Critical Materials in Clean Energy Transitions, IEA, 2022
It is crucial, therefore, that the mining industry get as much out of the existing infrastructure as possible to deliver the raw materials needed for the energy transition. If not, the energy transition will likely fail.
The mining industry faces three main challenges that curtail its ability to maximise the efficiency of existing assets and increase output to meet demand:
- Ageing infrastructure nearing the end of its working life which requires costly maintenance.
- Unplanned asset downtime due to insufficient asset integrity understanding.
- Understanding the true asset life remaining in aged assets to optimise work/load cycles and minimise potential safety risks.
This lack of understanding hinders effective management and maintenance planning and prevents companies from identifying critical hotspots. The inability to detect such hotspots and hence focus maintenance and inspection where it matters most can lead to costly shutdowns of up to $1,000,000 daily for reclaimers. Consequently, there is a growing need for the industry to adopt advanced technologies to overcome these challenges and optimise asset utilisation.
Embracing RB-FEA for Improved Throughput and Asset Longevity in the Mining Industry
Akselos is revolutionising the mining industry with its cutting-edge mathematical modelling approach – Reduced Basis Finite Element Analysis (RB-FEA). RB-FEA offers three distinct advantages when compared to Finite Element Analysis (FEA):
- Speed – complex engineering assessments can now be done in near real-time, enabling more informed and faster decision-making
- Scale – large assets, such as reclaimers, can now be modelled at millimetre-level accuracy.
- Connectivity – data from the field, such as inspection data, load data, and (if available) sensor data from strain/acceleration gauges, can be ingested in near real-time so that you always have an accurate view of the state of the asset ‘as-it-is-today.’
By implementing RB-FEA, mining companies can undertake detailed fatigue assessments to determine the remaining lifespan of their assets and pinpoint critical areas. Doing so enables them to establish a well-informed, risk-based inspection strategy to reduce unplanned downtime and improve operational safety.
This process complies with engineering standards and intuitively integrates seamlessly with existing operations. Consequently, operators can substantially increase throughput, equipping them to address the challenges related to optimising the efficiency of their current assets and satisfying the increasing demand for raw materials vital to a sustainable future.
Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future with RB-FEA
To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and meet the growing demand for raw materials, the mining industry must overcome challenges such as limited visibility into asset lifespans and difficulty identifying critical hotspots. Akselos’ RB-FEA revolutionises the industry by providing fast, accurate, and scalable mathematical modelling, allowing mining operators to optimise asset utilisation, enhance safety, and extend asset life. By adopting RB-FEA, the mining industry can efficiently meet the increasing demand for raw materials, paving the way for a sustainable future and contributing to global efforts in combating climate change.