BHP reveals $1bn win from data automation

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BHP reveals $1bn win from data automation

Uses machine learning to cast new eye over old exploration data.

Mining giant BHP has unlocked around $1 billion in "value" in the first year of a major data automation initiative.

The data automation project was established in early 2021 and is being delivered through five digital centres that focus on advanced analytics, machine learning and operational decision automation.

BHP said in a slide deck that the program so far is a billion-dollar victory for the company, though it did not share details of where it had unlocked the most value by using analytics.

It did say that it has applied machine learning to re-assessing 100 years of legacy exploration data, pointing to the assembly of a substantial training dataset.

The exploration data re-assessment let BHP locate new exploration targets with a higher degree of accuracy.

BHP has teamed up with artificial intelligence company KoBold Metals to apply machine learning to “revolutionise the way we discovered new deposits," BHP chief executive Mike Henry said.

In its half year 2022 results, BHP stated broadly that "technology is a key lever" in improving safety, growing production and easing costs. 

Henry told investors “technology and innovation are areas of particular focus” for the company alongside working internally.  

“We're collaborating externally to solve big challenges,” Henry said.

“We're also investing in emerging technologies to give us more competitive edge and to drive sustainable growth across our current operations, our resource base and our value chain.

“We've cast the net wide. For example, working with startups and academia to investigate a number of innovative iron ore beneficiation concepts."

Beneficiation is the process of separating worthless materials from the ore.

Henry said BHP is “well positioned to create and grow value”

“We've demonstrated our ability to execute well through all of the challenges the world and industry have faced over the past six months and continue to face.”

The company also reported around 200 autonomous trucks are now operation globally across six mining sites. 

BHP reported a profit from operations of US$14.8 billion (A$20.78 billion) and attributable profit of US$9.4 billion, plus underlying attributable profit of US$10.7 billion.

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