The next generation improvements in mine productivity are likely to come from innovations in the digital economy, especially in the fields of automation and integration of the overall knowledge base seamlessly across the mining value chain. Digital productivity is core to this vision through dealing with large and complex data sets, extracting knowledge from data, building intelligent and automated machines suitable for remote operation and in integrating the mining process — from exploration through mining, processing and transportation. Benefits from adopting a digital approach include the more effective use of scarce expertise, reduced process variance, and more informed and faster decision-making.
2013 Mining Resources Moderator Colin Farrelly
Mining Subject Matter Experts & Stream Speakers
- Graham Shepherd
- Dennis Franklin
- Steve Guigni
- Jonathan Law
- Paul Heithersay
- Paul Lucey
2013 Mining Recommendations
To respond to ever-increasing challenges and to achieve a step change in performance, mining companies have been experimenting with new business models and new technologies to reinvent the way operational processes are carried out. The business value of rapid organisational adaptation has been demonstrated by the dramatic economic cycles in mining over the last decade. In that time the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has become increasingly fundamental to business operations. ICT linked with new sensor and production technologies are now critical factors in both business productivity and business agility through the more effective use of scarce expertise, improved data and information analysis, reduced process variance, and more informed and faster decision-making.
All major mining companies are conducting significant initiatives that take advantage of new technologies, and there is an opportunity for Australia to be at the forefront of developing the ICT solutions that will play a fundamental role in this industry transformation in productivity. Government has an important role in setting up the initial conditions for a flourishing SME market in Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS), including developing an agile and innovative ICT sector, and in attracting to Australia investment and expertise from the global mining industry, including product and services companies.
Further details are outlined in the Australia 3.0 – Mining Recommendations Communiqué
1. Building on success from the adoption of technology in Mining
We recommend that an inventory of industry activities be compiled and made available on-line so that mining companies, research organisations, suppliers and government can better coordinate their individual efforts and not have to reinvent every component of the change.
The “ICT in Mining Inventory” would encompass:
1) Case histories of successful innovations, including challenges overcome and benefits delivered
a) Collaborative research initiatives proposed or underway on technology enabled
b) Lessons learnt in governance practices for assessing and shepherding innovation
c) Key contacts to follow up any specific item
2) Processes and ongoing ownership to ensure the evergreen management of the
The resulting shared knowledge will increase the speed of uptake and the
value of benefits achieved from the adoption of technology driven innovation.
2. Ideas identification and coordination on ICT enabled innovation in Mining
We recommend that Government seed the facilitation of an Industry, Research and Government Forum that takes an active role in progressing joint “industry owned” initiatives to develop innovative technologies and processes.
A standing “ICT Innovation in Mining Forum” would:
a) Share innovation ideas for increasing industry-wide productivity
b) Build a “marketplace” for innovative ideas, participants, and providers
c) Lower costs for participants and build viable scale for providers
d) Encourage commercialisation of innovations onshore with Australian and overseas providers
e) Encourage broad sourcing of ideas through low barriers on participation (SME friendly)
f) Provide ongoing ownership and management of the ICT in Mining Inventory from Recommendation 1
3. Collaboration to overcome technical barriers in ICT innovation
We recommend Industry, Government, Research and other players come together with appropriate resources to resolve technology regulation and standards issues hampering technology adoption in Mining. This will be most effectively achieved with seed facilitation by government, with ongoing funding and operation provided from Industry through the ICT Innovation in Mining Forum proposed in Recommendation 2.
Efforts on this “Industry Standard Platform” would focus initially on the potential for a common approach to:
a) Resolving spectrum assignment issues between regulators, suppliers and mining companies
b) Agreement on data interchange standards specific to Mining
c) Agreement on interoperability standards for automated equipment
d) Development of common core business models, particularly for new technology-enabled processes
Such collaboration in other industries has demonstrated the productivity gains that are achievable as a result of coordinated industry-wide initiatives, including the encouragement of an active SME market for niche solutions.
4. Ensuring the future availability of required ICT skillsets
We recommend that Industry, Government, Research and the relevant tertiary training institutions come together to plan and assure the availability of appropriate skills required for the future health of the Mining Industry. This will be most effectively achieved with seed facilitation by government, with funding and ongoing operation provided from Industry via existing mining and ICT industry associations.
This “Future ICT Skills Strategy” includes:
a) Building relevant ICT literacy skills into the training of future Mining specialist and leadership positions (Geologists, Engineers, Managers, etc).
b) Developing company strategies to maintain future relevant skills, and advanced corporate knowledge through industry peaks and troughs
c) Developing industry strategies for keeping key experience within the industry. Eg: applying skills to cross-industry research, innovation and knowledge base building initiatives.
d) Addressing challenges presented by the retirement of the baby boomer generation and consequential loss of knowledge and experience, as well as the opportunities presented by encouraging industry participation from a more technology-savvy generation.
Developing a coordinated strategy will be help build and maintain future relevant skills well as retain industry knowledge through the peaks and troughs of the mining cycle.