The world is changing rapidly, and mining is no exception. The first panel discussion held at the Future of Mining America conference in Denver from 29 to 30 October 2018, panelists discussed the mining industry’s challenges and responsibilities in this changing landscape.
The following is the first in a series of articles that delve into the insights gained at the conference.
Mining doesn’t seem to have changed much in 20 years, but will this be the case for the next 20 years? If so, what will the future mining company look like? In the past, mining companies competed on the quality of their ore bodies and how well they operate. The panel asked if the future source of competitive advantage will remain the same. If not, where will the value be derived from?
There have been many discussions in the mining industry about disruption and innovation. One fact remains clear: the mining industry must be more adaptive and resilient to change. This change is not new, it has been approaching from the horizon for the last 20 years. But, little actual change has taken place. Advances in technology and a changing socio-political landscape have made this change inevitable.
Changes have come on all fronts: environmental, social responsibility, and social license to operate (SLO). The mining industry must create more development projects. These projects need to include stakeholders and communities.
The world is becoming more and more automated, with many self-learning options. This means operational performance is changing too. How do we add value? Mining is no longer able to be purely profit-driven or create shared value simply by creating jobs.
The mining industry needs to look beyond the job creation model. How can they engage the community in the digital transformation? Can mines become a catalyst to open up this new world and create opportunities to communities beyond the traditional mining jobs? Mines need to focus on education, training and communication with the communities in order to foster involvement around their projects. They also need to provide clarity on initiatives, explaining exactly how projects can benefit and/or affect the community.
Innovation for the mining industry is not about technology. While technology plays an important part, it is one part in an overall improvement strategy. Mines have closed, are closing, and few new mines are opening because they fail to offer the best return on investment. Innovation is the only way to reverse that problem. While the mining industry is moving toward innovation and implementing changes, progress is too slow.
The disruption in the mining industry is digital. While the advancement of technology presents challenges -as it changes the way we interact with our world- it also provides us with the tools we need to meet these challenges and contributes to making mining practices both more profitable and more sustainable.
The Future of Mining Americas conference brings together mining leaders from around the world to deliberate and define the current and future mining landscape. The conference is jam-packed with two full days of insightful presentations and panel discussions coving every aspect of the mine of the future.
Mining Disrupted Panelists: