Rodrigo Couto, President – Latin America,
HEXAGON’S MINING DIVISION
"One of our focuses is educating the market to convince users that sharing data in a meaningful way is going to be beneficial to their operations."
How has Hexagon’s Mining division evolved in recent years and what is the company’s focus today?
Hexagon’s Mining division is part of Hexagon AB, a Swedish multinational technology organization that was founded more than 20 years ago and has grown to have a global presence in 50 countries, generating revenue of US$5.1 billion. Over the past decade, Hexagon has been scaling its mining technology portfolio through a combination of organic growth, M&A and partnerships. These include the January 2022 acquisition of Minnovare, a leading provider of drilling technology that improves the speed, cost and accuracy of underground drilling; and partnerships with OEMs such as Liebherr to advance automation, or fellow technology companies such as HARD-LINE to expand teleoperation capabilities.
Today, Hexagon has a go-to-market strategy called ‘Power of One’, which is a holistic solution connecting all processes of a mine from the pit to the plant, leveraging data from connected workflows to maximize the value of productivity, safety and sustainability at an operation. Our technologies cover the areas of mine measurement, 3D modelling and design, and solve both surface and underground challenges, with the main goal of developing smart mines through a feedback loop between the real and digital worlds.
Hexagon’s mining solutions include fleet management, asset health, machine guidance, and analysis solutions to optimize operations; a safety portfolio including collision avoidance, operator alertness, and vehicle intervention; as well as drill and blast, enterprise, and monitoring portfolios. Through technology, we aim to simplify operations for our clients and make their lives easier.
What would you say are the main barriers to break down the silos that exist in the mining sector?
In 2021, Hexagon implemented 61 projects in Latin America. The main challenge we encountered in most of these projects was to break the paradigm of keeping data inside each silo. Clients care a lot about data and spend a lot of time collecting it, but many do not know how to transform data into actionable information. Hexagon offers clients an integrated ecosystem which guarantees a single source of data, which is automatically transformed into actionable information, connecting different workflows to enhance efficiency and productivity. One of our focuses is educating the market to convince users that sharing data in a meaningful way is going to be beneficial to their operations.
Can you elaborate on Hexagon’s partnerships with HARD-LINE and Liebherr?
We partnered with HARD-LINE, a leading supplier of automation, teleoperation and remote-control technology for the mining industry, to combine our technologies so that mine workers can be removed from dangerous environments. We have already implemented a remote center at Vale in Brazil so they can remotely manage tailings dams from an office. These remote operations run 24/7 to evaluate any kind of displacement or potential risk of failures of the dams in real time.
Hexagon has partnered with Liebherr to deliver next-generation automation solutions. The most impactful aspect of this is Hexagon’s autonomous mission management system, which orchestrates fleet and unmanned mine traffic movements throughout the mine for optimized haulage.
Which areas of mining technology adoption have room for growth in Chile?
Chilean mining is advanced with respect to the adoption of many technologies, and catching up when it comes to collision avoidance systems and fatigue. We have been talking with the unions in Chile to explain that these technologies are not meant to expose drivers, but rather to protect them instead so that they can return home safely.
What are the main factors you believe will drive the growth of mining technology in the coming years?
Over the past two years, the highest demand in the mining technology space has been for collision avoidance systems, fatigue monitoring systems, vehicle intervention systems (VIS), teleoperations and autonomy. We are currently very much focused on everything related to safety, as well as data science, including AI and big data.
Investors are looking to put their money into safe, profitable and responsible operations. Because ore grades are getting lower and ESG standards are becoming stricter, mining companies have to invest in disruptive and transformational technologies to optimize their operations so they can continue to attract investment.