Experts from 4Sight Holdings, a leading provider of digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions in the mining sector, unpacked and addressed important developments and trends in AI that are shaping the industry during the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town from 5–8 February 2024.

Willie Ackerman, chief sales and marketing officer and Wilhelm Swart, chiefoperational technologies officer at 4Sight Holdings.

Willie Ackerman, chief sales and marketing officer and Wilhelm Swart, chief operational technologies officer at 4Sight Holdings. Supplied by 4Sight Holdings

With vast expertise in digitalisation, data analytics and AI, 4Sight Holdings is uniquely positioned to empower mining companies and help them harness the transformative potential of AI-led disruption within the mining industry to address current challenges and exploit future opportunities.

“By integrating cutting-edge technologies like AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics, 4Sight offers tailored solutions that optimise operational efficiency, enhance safety protocols, and drive sustainable practices,” explained Willie Ackerman, chief sales and marketing officer at 4Sight Holdings.

Wilhelm Swart, chief operational technologies officer added: “There are five key themes where AI is playing an increasingly important role in mining operations, touching every facet of the ecosystem and value chain, from operational efficiency, supply chains and profitability to safety and sustainability.”

These themes include digitalisation and data analytics, sustainability and environmental concerns, energy management, supply chain transformation, and safety and risk management.


Theme 1: Digitalisation and data analytics

Mine operators globally are investing heavily to bring the connected mine concept to reality, which represents the integration of IoT technology, data analytics, and AI, creating a dynamic and intelligent ecosystem.

“Within the connected mine, AI processes and analyses the vast amounts of data collected from IoT sensors, electrically driven machinery and other sources,” explained Swart.

 “Machine learning (ML) algorithms identify patterns, predict equipment failures, and accurately forecast maintenance needs to maximise uptime and equipment lifespan through predictive maintenance.”

Connected AI-driven systems also optimise workflows and provide insights for data-driven decision-making. This synergy of technologies can deliver a paradigm shift in mining operations by optimising efficiency, safety and sustainability.


Theme 2: Sustainability and environmental concerns

According to Ackerman, the role of AI in addressing sustainability and environmental concerns in the mining sector relates to its ability to help monitor and reduce an operator’s environmental impact.

“ML models analyse data to optimise energy usage, minimise waste and suggest eco-friendly practices, aiding in compliance with sustainability regulations and fostering responsible mining operations.”


Theme 3: Energy management

Given South Africa’s legacy energy constraints and challenges, the mining sector is championing the use of embedded energy generation from renewable sources by exploiting the government’s removal of the 100MW licence-exemption cap on self-generation.

“Leveraging AI in energy management optimises the integration of renewable energy sources into mining operations,” elaborated Swart.

“With the right solution, ML algorithms forecast energy demand, manage energy storage, and dynamically adjust operations to maximise the use of renewable energy, ensuring efficient and reliable power sources.”

Moreover, AI plays a role in optimising energy consumption by analysing data from electrified mining equipment.

“ML models predict energy demands, optimise usage patterns, and suggest efficient energy sources and optimal consumption levels for different mining operations, contributing to cost savings, improved efficiency and sustainability efforts,” added Swart.


Theme 4: Supply chain transformation

By harnessing advanced algorithms and ML capabilities, AI supports supply chain optimisation through enhanced efficiency, reduced costs and improved overall performance.

“By analysing supply chain data, AI enhances transparency, visibility and resilience in the supply chain with ML algorithms able to identify potential disruptions, forecast demand, support inventory management and transport and logistics optimisation, and recommend agile supply chain strategies, ensuring smoother operations, even amid uncertainties,” stated Swart.


Theme 5: Safety and risk management

By leveraging advanced algorithms and ML capabilities, AI enhances proactive safety measures, identifies potential risks and contributes to creating a safer working environment for mining personnel.

“AI systems monitor electrified mining environments for potential safety hazards related to electrical systems while ML models identify patterns in electrical data to predict and prevent potential risks, ensuring a safe working environment,” stated Swart.

 Informing investment decisions

With such broad applications and the diverse set of digital solutions available, the challenge facing decision-makers in the mining sector is knowing where to channel investment into areas that deliver the greatest impact.

“4Sight utilises simulation and digital twin technologies to assist decision-makers with facts and scenarios related to where to invest for the best returns, and in what sequence they should execute the projects, combining our domain-specific skills with leading technology and experience,” explained Ackerman.


Justin Manson, salesdirector at Webfleet

Justin Manson, sales director at Webfleet Supplied by Webfleet


Fleet management is undergoing major advances and 2024 will be a decisive year in two key areas: safety and decarbonisation. In addition, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) applied to automotive will drive new challenges and opportunities in the sector. Webfleet, Bridgestone’s global fleet management solution, has compiled the fleet management trends that are on the horizon.


AI in the automotive industry

Artificial intelligence is revolutionising everything, from programming to data management, cybersecurity and training. It also plays a crucial role in the automotive industry, advancing aspects such as autonomous driving, road safety and user experience. This trend will continue in the coming months, with AI being used to train autonomous vehicles, improve emergency braking systems, detect fatigue, predict vehicle maintenance, and optimise routes in real-time – ultimately improving mobility in cities.



Reducing environmental footprints have become one of the most important goals for companies globally, alongside meeting increasingly stringent emissions targets. Many European cities have already implemented Low Emission Zones (LEZ), and by 2030, Zero Emission Zones (ZEZ) will be introduced, permitting only vehicles that do not emit to circulate. Additionally, new regulations, such as the Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive (CSRD), which will come into force from this month, will be a challenge.


 Fleet Electrification

The year 2024 promises to be the time to transition fleets to electric vehicles (EVs). Rapid technological advances, combined with a global commitment to sustainability, create a particularly favourable environment for electrification. According to a Webfleet study on the electrification potential of vehicle fleets, 61% of commercial vehicles in Europe could be replaced by an electric alternative. Moreover, companies with EVs save on average 5 665ℓ of fuel per vehicle per year, EUR3 599 (R74 893.82) in costs, and 15 tons of CO2 per vehicle per year. However, there are still challenges to overcome, such as the charging network, although the EU plans to distribute EV charging points on the main road networks.

According to Justin Manson, sales director at Webfleet, the electric trucks on South Africa’s roads will be joined by vehicles powered by gas, specifically compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas, and fuel cell trucks. “A fuel cell truck is an electric truck that generates electricity from fuel cells powered by hydrogen stored in tanks. In a fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are combined through an electrochemical reaction to generate electricity, heat and water.”


Smart Charging for electric vehicles

“One challenge confronting companies with electric vehicles, is smart charging. What’s the point of using electric vehicles if recharging is done using non-renewable energies? The market is starting to implement systems that ensure the use of clean energy during the charging process of electric vehicles. This not only improves battery health and increases residual value, but also facilitates charging when grid costs are lower, leading to energy cost savings,” says Manson.


Fleet Safety

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that traffic accidents result in 1.3 million fatalities and 50 million injuries every year. To address this, a global strategy has been drawn up to reduce road deaths and injuries by at least 50% by 2030. The strategy involves establishing measures such as setting driving and resting time limits and using in-vehicle technology to promote safe driving styles. In the upcoming year, safety will be given even more attention in regulatory developments, particularly with regards to tachograph compliance.

“Even better news is that there will be safer trucks on South African roads in 2024 and into the future. Global truck manufacturers are constantly striving to introduce innovative safety features. Unlike in the past, where many were optional extras, features such as lane guidance and collision avoidance are fast becoming standard features in the newer models,” says Manson. n

Source: Supplied by Webfleet