Take your mind back to 2019. Socializing, travel, and on-site work were all possible, and the global economy was operating normally. All kinds of industries around the world were functioning and thriving – even if there were areas for improvement on environmental, social, and governmental issues.
Then, of course, the unprecedented happened: the COVID-19 pandemic appeared, throwing almost all aspects of life into chaos, including the economy. Many traditionally strong industries – think hospitality, aviation, and entertainment – were hit particularly hard by its impact.
Mining: Surprising resilience
Mining, however, has been relatively resilient over the past twelve months. Despite Moody’s Investors Service forecasting moderate exposure to the effects of the pandemic in March 2020, its impact on the industry remains fairly low.
Of course, there have been some setbacks, such as government-mandated mine shutdowns in South Africa and Peru, and lower demand for copper, iron, and zinc. Nevertheless, the gold market has benefited from the higher levels of uncertainty. Lower energy prices have also positively impacted the mining industry, since energy typically makes up 20-25% of its direct operating costs.
A chance to build back better…
As such, many mining companies around the world are using the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink how they operate. This includes adjusting how and where work happens, improving remote collaboration, accelerating the adoption of automation and digital capabilities, and operating more safely with minimal human labor. These new ways of working could support a safer, more sustainable, and more efficient industry.
…supported by strong materials analysis
But, to start implementing these steps, there’s one key thing the mining industry needs: fast, accurate materials analysis! By enabling reduced energy, chemical use, and waste, and increased recycling, recovery, and value extraction, analytical instruments can contribute to a new future for the mining industry.
At Malvern Panalytical, we offer several materials analysis instruments that can help make mining more predictable, agile, and sustainable. Based on over 50 years of experience in creating value for multiple segments and stages within the mining industry, our instruments can support the mining process from exploration to final product analysis – analyzing mineralogy, elemental composition, particle size and shape, and more.
For example, particle size analysis tools such as our Insitec analyzers and Mastersizer 3000 can help to ensure minimal energy consumption during ore processing to achieve the highest metal recovery rates. Our ASD FieldSpec and TerraSpec NIR spectrometers provide real-time analysis in the field in seconds, taking efficiency in exploration to new levels. And XRF platforms like our Epsilon or Zetium can characterize a wide range of mining samples, eliminating expensive sample preparation and enabling operators to monitor impurities.
In short, all these solutions can help make the post-pandemic world of mining more successful and sustainable than ever – not a return to the ‘old normal’ of 2019, but a ‘better normal’ for everyone.