How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Mining

Pan American has several mine expansions ramping up, including the La Colorada and Dolores mines in Mexico, while also stepping up exploration in Argentina. Meanwhile, the mining giant is a 100 percent owner of the Navidad asset (also in Argentina), one of the world's largest undeveloped silver deposits, although that project has been held up by provincial laws in Argentina. Pan American has a very low cost of production at $5.04/oz, or an all-in sustaining cost per silver ounce sold (AISCSOS) of $10.77.

The management team, with a track record of success, continues to push mechanization and automation at many of its mines, which helps keep costs low.

#4 Ambarella (NASDAQ: AMBA)

Ambarella Inc. is as semiconductor and image processing company and develops low-power high-definition video products. Ambarella made waves at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show when it announced the H22 chip for cameras in drones.

It films 4K HD video that comes equipped with electronic image stabilization, cutting out the need for the gimbals that are often found on drones. Gimbals allow cameras to pivot without causing the camera to shake, but they are heavy, which means shorter flight times.

But Ambarella's H22 chip could take drone use to the next level by eliminating unnecessary weight. The exciting thing about what Ambarella is offering is that most drone manufacturers are still using gimbals, which means the market for Ambarella is massive.

Meanwhile, Ambarella also unveiled its H3 chip earlier this year, which is used in 8K Ultra HD video for higher-end drones, according to MarketWatch. 8K offers 16 times the resolution of HD.

In short, Ambarella is the market leader for the cameras used in commercial drone technology, giving it huge upside potential as the mining industry continuously shifts in that direction.

#5 Hecla Mining Company (NYSE: HL)

Hecla Mining Company is the oldest silver and gold mining company in North America and it is currently the largest primary silver producer in the U.S.

Hecla has added nearly 300 million oz of silver reserves in the last 10 years. But even better, as Hecla's management likes to say, not all silver ounces are equal. Hecla operates in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, negating much of the country risk seen in many other parts of the world. It has four key mines, located in Idaho, Alaska, Quebec and Durango, Mexico.

Hecla's cost structure is highly attractive, one of the lowest in the business, with AISC of $9.97/oz in the second quarter of 2017.

Hecla pursues innovation and automation to keep those costs low. Hecla is automating its Greens Creek project in Alaska. And instead of the pick axes of the past, Hecla's shaft operators use rock breakers from behind computer screens at the surface.

It is experimenting with mechanical cutting to eliminate the need to drill and blast, which the company believes will revolutionize mining. Hecla also uses drilling automation that allows for drilling during shift change, significantly reducing the cost and time of drilling.

Hecla deployed an intelligent automated truck this year, able to handle automated haulage, which carries multiple benefits including improved safety, productivity and profitability.

Honorable mentions

Goldcorp (NYSE: GG) is a massive precious metals company based in Canada. Goldcorp's properties, however, extend to the United States, Mexico, Central America, and all the way to Argentina and Chile. Its primary product is gold, and it is the world's fourth-largest gold producer. Goldcorp has partnerships with some of the world's most reputable precious metals company, and owns some of the world's most productive mines.

By. Joao Piexe

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