Late last year, Amira hosted a world-wide discussion about remote operations, automation, and robotics in the mining sector.

The Amira Global ROAR covered many topics, identifying gaps for research to prepare the resources sector for Industry 6.0.

Several key themes emerged, one of which how do we as an industry accelerate advances remote operations with emerging data avalanches and subsequent latency challenges.  In the longer term, with increased sensor uptake across the mine value chain and a heighten need for multiple direct and reverse channels to support interoperability, we will need to explore the science and technology surrounding digital infrastructure that enables fluid and efficient mass interoperability. 

Allied to the digital infrastructure theme, the Global ROAR highlighted the need to ramp up the industry’s knowledge, capability and research in technology, science and human engagement to ensure our industry is resilient against cyber threats.

In response, Amira has established the Invisible Infrastructure Futures Program as part of the Futures Programs.  Each Futures Program is designed to tackle our industry’s mega-challenges and purposefully drive toward scientific and technological breakthroughs.  Each Futures program requires the development an R&D+I2 roadmap of projects addressing breakthrough milestones across targeted themes and at a range of “research to deployment” readiness levels.  Our intention and aim is that our Member’s investment in the associated projects drives resolution of the mega challenge and, in so doing, can purposefully transform our industry for the better.

Invisible Infrastructure has five themes:

In a presentation at the Robotics and Automation in Mining Queensland conference, Amira Global CEO Dr Jacqui Coombes said poor cyber-resilience was a major risk to mining business.

Dr Coombes cited examples of industries reliant on autonomous technology being affected by insidious hacking.  In 2010, a malicious and insidious computer worm slowly ruined 20 percent of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.

“The rapid adoption of emerging technologies is greatly increasing efficiency while adding dynamic cybersecurity challenges for organizations. Cyberattacks have moved beyond identity theft and online account hacks,” she said.

“They threaten our code-enabled physical world—our homes, our cities, our infrastructure, and even the medical devices in our bodies.

“A host of digital technologies such as AI, automated botnets, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing both facilitate attacks and defend against them at a scale, speed, and level of sophistication never seen before.

“Mining companies may think they’re an unlikely target for cyberattacks, but as reliance on autonomous and digital technology grows, so too does the cybersecurity risk.  And the consequences can be a matter of life or death.  From a business perspective, it’s the subtle cyber worming that could mean an remote operation slowly and incrementally misclassifying waste as ore and visa versa through a small, subtle manipulation of code.  In mining operations, there is often no retracing and corrections once ore is wrongly allocated to waste.  A subtle cyber worm could risk undermining the entire economics of a mining operation and company. 

“Australian figures indicate a lower number of respondents having an overall information security strategy in place with Australian numbers lower than both global and regional standards, and in sharp decline on prior years,” she said.

Next steps

Member input will be essential to the development of the Invisible Infrastructure program. A series of workshops are planned in the coming months.

For more information, please contact GM Member Engagement Sara Sulway.