Friday, 10 July 2020
Will Ore Become More Difficult to Mine Than Bitcoins?
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Will Ore Become More Difficult to Mine Than Bitcoins?

The idea that virtual materials could be mined in the virtual world — and that these materials could hold real value — sounds like something out of a science fiction story. Mining has always been a material pursuit, wherein raw materials are taken out of the earth and used to drive countless sectors of industry. Strange though it may seem, it’s actually true that commercial mining is no longer confined to the physical world. The rise of Bitcoin, and its recognition as a valid form of currency by an increasing number of governments, has opened up the sphere of virtual mining.

Can it help us understand our own industry? Can studying the differences and similarities give us new perspectives on what we do as miners of physical materials in the physical world?

First, we have to understand (so far as we can) how Bitcoin mining actually works, even in this cryptocurrency’s downturn. Let’s start with the fact that a chain of mathematical equations is involved. There are only a finite number of new equations that can be ‘mined,’ and doing so becomes more difficult with time. Early on, people mined bitcoins with personal computers. Today, dedicated devices have been invented to work on the complex equations more efficiently — which is necessary, since bitcoins become more complex as the blockchain grows.

The fact that there are a finite number of bitcoins available (21 million) is our first clue. The earth has a finite number of resources — and whenever resources are finite, strategic planning is critical. Leaders in commercial mining should take the initiative in creating a lighter overall footprint and a stronger ethical standard. The best innovations are the ones that make us more efficient and more responsible — not just one or the other.

Blast initiation is a prime example. The ability to fire multiple patterns at the same time, with nearly endless possibilities for customisation, can dramatically improve downstream operations. Ground vibrations and dilution are reduced, with fewer blasts and a reduced ecological disturbance. Safer working conditions are also maintained — because mining in the real world brings real dangers. Better blasting improves our operations on every level.

Next, let’s consider the fact that bitcoin mining technology has increased significantly in just a few years. As the blockchain grew and the math became more difficult, dedicated hardware was invented and manufactured specifically or the purpose of mining bitcoins more efficiently. This is still happening, with new machines coming to market every year.

How many mining operations persist in using inferior and outdated technology, from blast initiation to crusher circuits and even transport? This is like using your personal computer to mine bitcoins in 2018. It’s not a viable route to the best yield (or any yield at all, where Bitcoin is concerned). The takeaway here is that better technology and better advice is indispensible to mining performance, whether you’re in the real world or cyberspace.

The importance of better mining in the real world

The world of cyber currency and virtual mining is fascinating for one simple reason: It actually has value. People who never thought they’d invest in Bitcoin are now adding it to their investment portfolios, and with any number of other cyber currencies on the market, there seems to be no end in sight. But let’s not forget that the very machines used to mine bitcoins are made from metals that need to be mined from the earth. This illustrates the fact that our efforts toward innovation — including productivity, safety, and environmental responsibility — are indispensable to the world.

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