Zimbabwe Mines Embrace AI and Drones in Bid to Boost Productivity
The mining sector in Zimbabwe is turning to modern technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and drones to improve productivity and overcome challenges. With declining foreign currency receipts, power cuts, and high operational costs, the industry is expected to miss its revenue target of US$12 billion by the end of the year.
In a recent speech at the Media Mining Awards 2023, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Polite Kambamura, emphasized the game-changing potential of drones and AI in the mining sector. He stated that the introduction of smart mining, along with the use of drones and AI, will contribute to a sustainable mining economy. Kambamura also highlighted the importance of the mining sector in Zimbabwe’s economic development, as it brings in significant export revenues.
The use of AI has become crucial in the global industrial production process, and the Zimbabwean government aims to leverage these modern technologies to enhance the competitiveness of its mining industry on the international stage. AI-powered drones are already being utilized in mining for tasks such as environmental mapping, monitoring, and safety inspections of mine sites. These applications not only improve operational efficiency but also reduce costs for prospecting miners.
According to the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe’s annual State of the Mining Industry Survey report, mining companies are currently spending around 7% of their revenues on environmental social governance, including cleaner production technology. However, the need for critical expenditure items in the mining sector is substantial, with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development estimating a requirement of at least ZWL$300 billion.
The committee further emphasized the inadequacy of the 2024 budget, which falls significantly short at ZWL$601 billion. To address this shortfall, they recommended allocating an additional ZWL$300 billion towards critical expenditure, specifically for initiatives such as the mining cadastre information management system, the metallurgical department’s capacitation, and the mining industry loan fund. Additionally, funds are needed for minimizing mineral leakages and purchasing stands for the construction of provincial mining offices.
The importance of mineral exploration partnerships was highlighted at the recently concluded Mine Entra exhibition, where the Mining Promotion Corporation’s senior exploration geologist, Tapiwa Nyamutukwa, reported a surge in inquiries from local investors. Nyamutukwa revealed that lithium drew the most interest among potential investors, indicating a growing focus on this mineral.
Zimbabwe, known for its abundant natural resources, can benefit greatly from the integration of artificial intelligence into its mineral exploration processes. The adoption of AI-powered drones and other cutting-edge technologies will enable the mining sector to enhance productivity, ensure environmental sustainability, and attract more investment.
As the mining industry in Zimbabwe faces various challenges, embracing AI and drones opens opportunities for growth and development. By using these advanced technologies, the sector can overcome operational obstacles and achieve its revenue targets, contributing to the overall economic progress of the country.