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17 January, 2019 - 10:46 By Tony Quested mining for export pay dirt with AI technology

Support from Digital Catapult and the Department for International Trade has helped Cambridge technology company win work in the mining chains in Kazakhstan and Chile.

Electrification of the transport sector and supply constraints are fuelling commodities demand for copper globally. The mining industry is addressing how to meet this demand in the most sustainable way. has developed AI-powered real time decision support optimisation software that improves efficiency of the mining value chain from mine to market. 

The company aims to empower the mining industry to become more efficient and sustainable through value chain optimisation and harnessing the power of AI.

The mining industry is characterised by variability: the environment, rock and its properties are constantly changing. This variability increases costs and drags productivity down. 

If processes aren’t adapted quickly as variables change, energy and water can be wasted. Traditional operations technology can’t handle dynamic conditions, so is focused on using advanced digital technologies to create a platform that can predict varying conditions and is, therefore, far more responsive to change. 

With a specific interest in artificial intelligence wanted to explore how it could be used to develop an application to control thickeners, which are the machines that separate metal from waste rock using large amounts of water.

The company reasoned that optimising the control of thickeners would provide three key benefits:-

  1. Less water would be needed to complete the process
  2. More water could be recycled resulting in less waste
  3. Less power would be consumed as less water would need to be pumped into the thickener

All these advantages lessen the environmental impact as well as having a business benefit.

Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “Thanks to support from my department and through collaboration with Digital Catapult, the business has been able take the first step in its exporting journey for its AI solutions, reaching markets such as Kazakhstan and Chile. The Department will continue to support likeminded businesses through our Export Strategy as we look to drive exports as percentage of GDP to 35 per cent.”

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