May 17, 2020

Mines drones and automobiles

Dale Benton
2 min
Mines drones and automobiles
Technological innovation is a wave that will never end. In the last few years we have begun to witness significantdevelopments in autonomous mining, dri...

Technological innovation is a wave that will never end. In the last few years we have begun to witness significant developments in autonomous mining, driverless trucks and in some cases virtual reality to analyse mine site data.

According to a June 2016 report by McKinsey, the mining industry is 28 percent less productive than a decade ago. 

Now it seems that a new wave of innovation will make the analysis of mine data that little bit easier with the announcement that Airwave has acquired drone data analytics pioneer Redbird.

Airware, a company that has been providing Fortune 500 companies with complete enterprise drone solutions has acquired the France based company Redbird and its drone data analytics platform for mining, aggregates and construction industries.

One such company that works with Redbird is mining giant Caterpillar. The company announced the partnership with Redbird in December 2015 to increase and develop the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones to collect drone data and analyse that data with cloud based systems.

In May this year, Caterpillar and Redbird expanded the geographical scope of UAV operations and marketing as a direct result of a significant increase in customer demand. This has seen the UAV data tools offered on a global scale, not simply Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

“Construction and excavation sites, such as mines and quarries, must be managed and operated digitally in order to compete in today's markets. Commercial drone technology brings these operations into the digital world while offering faster, cheaper and higher-quality data and analytics,” said Jonathan Downey, founder & CEO of Airware.

 “By acquiring Redbird and incorporating Redbird's powerful analytics tools on top of the Airware platform, we are helping these enterprises make this transition into the digital age."

This new acquisition will see mining companies benefit from 100x more data and potentially 5x faster turnaround on data analytics.

By piloting a drone flight, mine companies can capture high quality aerial data and use that data to create a detailed survey grade mining site map of around 1,000 acres per day, per drone.

Downey said in a blogpost that the mining industry is one that is in need of “serious technological change”.

He cites that companies are still using paper and clipboards, walkie talkies which all in all contributes to less productivity, and judging by that report above – productivity is definitely an issue that needs addressing.

Through the acquisition of Redbird and the partnership with Caterpillar, it seems that Airware and UAV drone data analysis is on the cusp of transforming the data analytic process of the mining industry.


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Get in touch with our editor Dale Benton at [email protected]

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Jun 30, 2021

Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech

Rio Tinto
3 min
Rio Tinto and Alcoa’s JV project ELYSIS has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint

Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.

The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).

The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.

The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.

ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.

ELYSIS technology at a glance:

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.


Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”

Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”

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