The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Precision milling plays a crucial role in mining applications such as crushing, grinding, sorting and concentrating the minerals. In the last three years alone, there have been over 62,000 patents filed and granted in the mining industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in mining: precision milling. Buy the report here.

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Data Insights Innovation in mining: precision milling

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

40+ innovations will shape the mining industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the mining industry using innovation intensity models built on over 70,000 patents, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, tunnel ventilation systems, mine drainage systems, and tunnel lining construction are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Battery metal recycling, precision milling and virtual industrial monitoring are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are high performance drill bits and hybrid industrial vehicles, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the mining industry

Precision milling is a key innovation area in mining

Precision milling refers to the process of using specialized milling equipment and techniques to finely and accurately grind or crush ore, rock, or other geological materials into smaller particles with a high degree of precision and control. This process is essential in mining operations, as it plays a critical role in mineral processing, ore beneficiation, and the production of valuable minerals and metals. The method aims to achieve specific particle size distributions, liberate valuable minerals from the ore matrix, and enhance the efficiency of downstream processing.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 120 companies, spanning technology vendors, established mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of precision milling.

Key players in precision milling – a disruptive innovation in the mining industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to precision milling

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Komatsu 742 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 145 Unlock Company Profile
Tian Di Science & Technology 125 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 107 Unlock Company Profile
Sandvik 101 Unlock Company Profile
Anglo American 91 Unlock Company Profile
Sanyhe International 80 Unlock Company Profile
China Energy Investment 34 Unlock Company Profile
Shanxi Tiandi Coal Mining Machinery 25 Unlock Company Profile
Sany Heavy Equipment Investments 24 Unlock Company Profile
Kennametal 17 Unlock Company Profile
Fayat 17 Unlock Company Profile
Tiandi Shanghai Mining Equipment Technology 16 Unlock Company Profile
XCMG Construction Machinery 14 Unlock Company Profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 12 Unlock Company Profile
Vermeer 11 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
INDUS 9 Unlock Company Profile
China National Coal Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Herrenknecht 9 Unlock Company Profile
Jiamusi Coal Mining Machinery 8 Unlock Company Profile
ChampionX 7 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Tunnel Equipment Manufacturing 7 Unlock Company Profile
Bis Industries 6 Unlock Company Profile
China Coal Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
Schlumberger 6 Unlock Company Profile
Shan Xi Hua Yang Group New Energy 6 Unlock Company Profile
The Weir Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Vermeer Manufacturing 4 Unlock Company Profile
Yankuang Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Chuangli Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Zhou Bin 4 Unlock Company Profile
Jinneng Holding Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Yima Mining Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Triumph Heavy Industry 4 Unlock Company Profile
Anhui Hengyuan Coal-Electricity Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
Chongqing Songzao Coal And Electric 3 Unlock Company Profile
Sollami 3 Unlock Company Profile
Inst Techniki Gorniczej Komag 3 Unlock Company Profile
Guizhou Panjiang Refined Coal 3 Unlock Company Profile
Shanxi Lu'an Environmental EnergyDev. 2 Unlock Company Profile
China Coal Zhangjiakou Coal Mining Machinery 2 Unlock Company Profile
PowerChina Northwest Engineering 2 Unlock Company Profile
Harnischfeger Technologies 2 Unlock Company Profile
Henan Inst Engineering 2 Unlock Company Profile
Longkou Mining Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Pingdingshan Antaihua Mining Safety Equipment Manufacturing 2 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Baichen Food Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile
Alliance Resource Partners LP 2 Unlock Company Profile
Zhengzhou Siwei Electromechanical Equipment Manufacturing 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Komatsu and Sandvik, which are among the leading innovators in precision milling, offer products related to precision milling technologies. One such is milling machines, which are used to excavate and remove ore, minerals and rock from mining sites. Sandvik, for instance, offers a wide range of milling tools including shoulder milling tools, edging tools, face milling tools, high-feed milling tools, profile milling tools, copy milling tools, cut off, slot and groove milling tools, gear milling tools and thread milling tools.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Mining.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.