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SustainabilityNovember 15, 2021

Sustainable Transformation: It’s time to join the virtual twin revolution

​​​​​​​Based on a true story, this new series follows Claude Gonzalez and…
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Peter GRAHAM

​​​​​​​Based on a true story, this new series follows Claude Gonzalez and his team at Mina Vieja, and their journey to uncover opportunities and overcome challenges on their way to transforming their business to become more sustainable with the help of virtual twin experiences.​​​​​​​

Change is hard. It takes time and it takes money and it takes unflinching determination. But it’s clear that we in the mining industry have got to do it, not least because we, as responsible operators and the first link in the supply chain, have a vital role to play in helping the world to move away from the traditional “take-make-waste” linear economy to a circular economy –– an economy that supports recycling, eliminating waste, and the continued safe use of natural resources.

In addition, with the US once again rejoining the Paris Agreement in 2021, a total of 127 governments –– responsible for more than 60% of global emissions –– are now considering or already implementing commitments to achieving net-zero emissions. Mining companies that do not also commit to net zero, to emitting no more carbon dioxide than they remove from the atmosphere, will find themselves shut out of public funding and most likely private investment as well.​​​​​​​

Larry Fink is the Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest investment firm, which manages some $9 trillion in assets worldwide. In his 2020 letter​​​​​​​ to BlackRock clients, he announced that the company was making sustainability its new standard for investing. In his most recent 2021 letter to CEOs, Fink states that today, “No issue ranks higher than climate change on our clients’ lists of priorities.”

In other words, ESG investing is not a fad. It’s a fact.

The big question

The big question now for mine operators is how to build a new business model that is compatible with a circular, net-zero economy while also ensuring that their companies remain economically viable. Because no one can afford to waste time and money on ideas and solutions that don’t work or cost too much, mine operators need ways to ensure certainty –– certainty that they are making the best possible decisions, that they are choosing the most effective and efficient route in supporting the environment, their employees, surrounding communities, and their own bottom line.

By allowing mine operators to thoroughly prove an idea or solution in advance, virtual twin technology provides exactly that kind of certainty.

Digital versus virtual twins

You might be most familiar with digital twins. Digital twins have been in use since the 1960s, but the technology, while improved over time, simply creates 3D CAD models representing a real-world physical object or system. While useful, the object or system is shown in isolation, outside of the environment in which it will operate.

Virtual twins, on the other hand, are scientifically accurate virtual models of real-world objects and systems that can be tested within equally sophisticated virtual models of their specific operating environments. This enables you…

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