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Modular Mining – Fact or Fiction?

Our Keelan Mooney writes in a series of blog posts exploring how mining will play its part in the race for a carbon-neutral world. He will look at how mining is changing and the challenges for both the mining sector and the insurance world. In this fifth chapter, Keelan will explore how a modular approach can impact the modern mining industry.

When we think about a modular design, the design in principle is divided into smaller parts created independently which can then be modified, aligned, or exchanged with other modules to form a whole component.

How this concept could apply to mining is the integration of ore/waste extraction to the mill, and how the mill is designed and constructed. Creative thinking and skilled engineers and designers would be crucial to the success of such an implementation. 

By constructing mills in smaller modular components and allowing for easy transport, capital costs could be reduced. Temporary supporting foundations to reduce permanent concrete pads or footprints could be used in place of permanent structures reducing the carbon produced from cement as well as making closure  and reclamation more feasible. 

Having the capability to move the mill around the mine from pit to pit as the mine advances can reduce haul times, and mining costs which can be the bulk of operating costs. Modular designs can also allow remote operations to be more feasible and have a better impact on the environmental principles companies are required to uphold.

Modular concepts could have a large impact on the insurance industry. With the ability of designing and manufacturing prior to transport, the transport of whole segments of mills could have an increased transport risk associated. Construction methods would change requiring a fresh view on construction risks, and creating modules that are moveable would add risk every time a movement is executed at site.

Although a modular concept could push mining to the next stage of evolution, studies will need to be conducted on technology readiness levels, cost evaluations and how to successfully implement such ideas.

Keelan Mooney, EIT | Loss Adjuster

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Oil & Gas