Digitalisation, robot technology, AI, autonomous systems - opportunities for sustainable future mining

  • Contact:

    Nikola Vekic

  • Project Group:

    Prof. Dr. Jochen Kolb

  • Funding:


  • Enddate:


Resource data and raw material availability are not fixed variables, which is why these volumes are newly collected for the Federal Republic of Germany every year by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) in cooperation with the German Raw Materials Agency (DERA). On the one hand, new discoveries of deposits and new, innovative technologies for the extraction and processing of raw materials continuously postpone the predicted end of the secured raw material supply. On the other hand, many raw materials (e.g. industrial minerals, rare earth elements) are not traded on transparent markets and new discoveries of deposits, e.g. to stabilise a high raw material price, are not always published early enough.

Western Europe's share of global expenditure on commodity exploration is the lowest at 3% (China 26%, Canada 11%, Australia 10%) (MinEx Consulting 2017). In this context, the think tank has the task of presenting strategies that compare important investments in recycling technologies with decision scenarios in new technologies for the exploration and extraction of raw materials.

Innovative approaches of autonomous gravity vehicles can be further developed into autonomous mines and minimally invasive directional drilling techniques. The digitalisation of the rock bedrock allows better adaptation of tools and machines to the deposits. New analytics such as non-contact visual inspection systems based, among other things, on cameras in the hyperspectral range, enable improved material-selective sorting, thereby increasing raw material efficiency and reducing environmental impact. Geochemical sensors on mining machines can determine ore quality online, thus enabling targeted, quality-controlled mining and, in the future, autonomous mining. The development of new technologies and digitalisation can be applied both as an export technology and in the exploration and production of bulk raw materials such as stones and earth in Germany.

Within the framework of the think tank, the state of technology development in the Federal Republic of Germany is to be shown and stakeholders identified. The potential of digitalisation and new technologies, such as the use of hyperspectral cameras and modern geochemical sensor technology for mining, will be demonstrated and evaluated. This will result in recommendations for special funding programmes with the aim of autonomous mines and minimally invasive interventions in the natural environment, especially for mass raw materials.