In an exclusive interview with Energy CIO Insights', Goran Kordel discusses how energy consumption and exploitation can be handled with the appropriate technology.
How has technology played a major role in your organization to overcome existing challenges?
As a mining company, we refine and recycle the base and precious metals that customers need. We work with mines and smelters that work over the long term to guarantee the supply of base metals and precious metals through the mining of ore. The main objective of Boliden is to play a crucial role in the circular economy. Utilizing resources to the optimal level and processing materials at every stage of the value chain is what we do to be a significant part of sustainable development. As far as technology is concerned, our focus is on automation, which benefits the processes involved in mining to become more efficient and less stressful. As a company making a mark in the European mining industry, our goals are structured into three missions.
It all begins with a keen focus on increasing productivity. This goal is a driving factor for us as we believe by producing more, our company benefits the overall economy. Secondly, we ensure the safety factor in the work we do. The adoption of automation has contributed to better efficiency and has also significantly contributed to improved safety. As most of the large equipment is located down below in the mines, having autonomous machines guarantee remote controlled actions above the soil, which means lesser chances of accidents or mishaps. Thirdly, as a mining company, our intention is always to add to the environmental benefits and control our environmental footprint through automation techniques. Automation at present is much more based on information technology, which is better known as digital automation.
"With the advancement of technology and our workers having smartphones or tablets with them all the time helps in alerting them whenever there is any unexpected accident"
The journey for us so far has been successful. In fact, we have operated in Northern Europe, where, in spite of facing high labor cost issues and governance regulations, we have adhered to the highest standards in maintaining safety and environmental regulations while enhancing productivity. Consequentially, all these have led us to be at the forefront of maintaining sustainability in our work.
What would you say are the technologies of the present day that has been a vital success factor for your organization so far?
There are definitely certain technologies in the market right now that help in making business processes much more efficient and feasible than ever before. They cater to the problems we face while we are out there in the field and help resolve any issues even after that. In the mining industry, for instance, mobile networks are not always found in remote areas. But the work requires networks and internet connectivity, for which we have been investing heavily for the last two years. We are looking at people and machine sensors to detect the stationary position and other innovations like 5Gtechnology, which were unimaginable in our industry a few years ago. Besides, there is still no GPS Satellites-driven machinery in the mines, even though it is essential to know about the position of equipment below in the mines. Finally, we can’t push aside the boon that analytics brings in, which forms another big enabler.
What are the safety and risk management measures that your organization has in place for workers?
Having automated machines give us the benefit of being proactively informed about the hazardous possibilities beforehand so that we can take effective steps toward rectifying the situation. With the advancement of technology and our workers having smartphones or tablets with them all the time helps in alerting them whenever there is any unexpected accident. We have implemented enough safety measures that allow them to communicate easily if anything goes wrong in the mines. In return, once we are informed of any alerts coming from the mines, we can send rescue teams or execute effective steps to evacuate workers from the site.
What sort of recycling methodologies do you employ in your processes to contribute to a sustainable environment?
As one of the largest recycler of electronic scrap in Europe, we ensure that our mining activities produce minimum waste. It is because we prioritize our goals toward contributing significantly to the economic, social, and environmental aspects of society. Our company takes into consideration waste materials generated by industries and adopts multiple recycling methods. Boliden’s smelter has the capacity for recycling electrical materials up to 120,000 tonnes annually. Electronic waste has to be processed in such a way that minimizes any chances of hazard to the environment.
As a major step toward protecting the environment, we have electrified the mining trucks, which is justified because the electricity generated in the Nordics are mainly fossil-free, so using electricity does not contribute to further waste of resources. As it turns out, we have a low carbon footprint in the Nordics because of the steps we have adopted in this regard.
What advice would you like to give to some of the new organizations coming in the market or aspirants trying to pursue a career in the industry?
If we go a decade back, production, operational IT, and traditional office IT were separate disciplines. But with changing times, this trend has also changed and brought these disciplines together. The key success factor for the upcoming players in the industry is to strike a perfect balance of cooperation between production, operational IT, and traditional office IT.