Mining powerhouse Vale launches artificial intelligence center

Iron Ore Production, Vale Mining (Northern System), State of Minas Gerais, Brazil

South American firm Vale, one of the world’s largest mining companies, has opened an artificial intelligence (AI) center at its Tubarao site in Vitoria, Brazil.

In an announcement Tuesday, the business said that the center was aiming to “leverage the adoption of innovative and disruptive technologies in all areas of the business.”

The work related to the center is focused on several things, including optimizing the maintenance of assets such as off-road trucks, and improving the management of ore processing.

Malcolm McCrae, the head of the center, said that AI had become “essential for companies.” He described the facility as an opportunity not just for Vale but for the industry.

Vale, which is a world leader in the production or iron ore, pellets and nickel, is the latest company in the mining sector to turn to innovative technology.

Australian business BHP is, for instance, using everything from autonomous drills at iron ore mines to trialing “smart caps” that analyze brain waves and monitor worker fatigue.

Looking at the bigger picture, the potential for innovation within the mining sector to have positive effects is considerable, according to George Gradl, German tech business SAP’s global head for mining and metals industries.

“If we make mining more efficient, people who work in mining should have safer jobs and more long-term jobs, because if you do efficient mining you can also extend the life of a mine,” Gradl told CNBC last year.

If mining became more efficient, Gradl added, then commodity prices could remain stable and would not necessarily need to rise and fall.


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