Satellite communications firm Inmarsat believes the level of planned spend on IoT marks it out as a “critical next generation technology” as mining companies continue to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic

Mining industry IoT investment

The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the digitisation of the work process in the nation’s mining industry (Credit: Shutterstock/Oyls)

The mining industry is expected to speed up its investment in Internet of Things (IoT) over the next three years.

That is according to new research by satellite communications firm Inmarsat, which claims the sector’s leading investors are “already seeing tangible benefits” of the technology, such as improved health and safety and staff productivity.

Inmarsat believes the level of planned spend on IoT marks it out as a “critical next generation technology” as mining companies continue to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, giving them the tools to become “more resilient, more flexible and quicker to adapt and react to change”.

Inmarsat’s director of mining Nicholas Prevost said: “Mining companies are starting to place more faith in IoT technologies, and with increased adoption they are starting to see an increase in cost savings amongst other tangible benefits.

“In the next five years this return on investment is set to grow further, ensuring that those companies investing in IoT are those that will lead the pack.”


IoT investment in mining industry a good indicator of an organisation’s commitment to safety and sustainability

Focusing on investment levels across Industry 4.0 technologies, Inmarsat’s research found that, over the past three years, cloud computing, cyber security and IoT have seen the highest percentage of budgetary investment, totalling 5.7%, 4.2% and 3.9% respectively.

It adds that these three technologies are set to retain the highest percentage of investment in the next three years rising to 9.8%, 8.4% and 7.6% respectively. This reflects the wider increases across the other technologies surveyed, including machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.

Prevost said: “From an investor community perspective, investment in IoT is a good indicator of a mining organisation’s resilience, efficiency and commitment to safety and sustainability.

“These are the sorts of markers that will ensure mining companies can thrive in the present and in the future, particularly in light of the challenges that Covid-19 has thrown at the industry.”

The research notes that mining companies also reported that their IoT deployments are “continuing to make a positive impact on their bottom line”. Currently, cost savings amounting to an average of 5.1% are being reported.

It added that hopes of a future impact on cost savings are more pronounced, rising steadily from 7.7% in 12 months, 13.8% in three years’ and a significant 18.9% in five years’ time.

This is a significant increase on Inmarsat’s previous research, where in 2018 mining organisations reported average current cost savings of an average of 1.76%, expected to rise to 16.02% by 2023.

It claims this not only illustrates the immediate return on investment (ROI) that IoT has brought to the sector over the past few years, but also the “continued confidence the sector has in IoT to bring long-term cost savings”.