Digital twins are among the newest members of mining’s extended family, part of an industry-wide adoption process aimed at maximizing the value of its big-data collection efforts and improving the performance of physical assets.

The digital twin concept isn’t new. It was developed years ago by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to mirror systems on board remote spacecraft for monitoring and maintenance purposes. It gained traction in the manufacturing sector and has grown in importance, becoming an integral element in the “Industry 4.0” blueprint envisioned for manufacturing and process industries where it joins artificial intelligence, machine learning and real-time data as foundation technologies for future business optimization. In a nutshell, Industry 4.0 seeks to leverage automation and data exchange capabilities in development of “smart plants.” But, for mining, the implications and potential benefits extend beyond the conventional plant site, reaching upstream into the mine and downstream to ports and terminals.
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