Mining in the Next Decade

THE NEXT DECADE | Futuristic mining involves transforming the mining business into best-in-class, sustainable, advanced-digital-competency companies

Being a mining futurist, it is my prediction that digitalized and sustainable business models are rapidly becoming the new norm in the mining sector. Industries that do not constantly learn and adapt will fall behind, and miss out on important commercial opportunities. Over time, this translates into missed profits, and threatens company survival.


TWO WHEELS THAT WILL DRIVE MINING SECTOR | Concepts of digital and sustainability will drive the mining sector next decade

I predict next decade mining industry will be driven by these two wheels.

Mining Digital wheel & Sustainability wheel

Levers of mining digital and sustainability wheels

Challenges to driving digital and sustainability wheels:

Lack of a clearly articulated digital and sustainability strategy; no idea where to start

Complexity, and lack of priority, focus, and deliverable milestones

No great ambition, and a limited budget

Lack of leaders in the organization, who are not brave enough to go the extra mile

The lack of talented or less motivated people in the organization

Lack of cross-business and communication

Absence of business and senior leadership in digital and sustainability strategies, formulation, and execution

Poor change control and lag

Lack of skills and expertise to realize the digital and sustainability strategies

CONNECTED MINE, DIGITAL MINE, INTELLIGENT AND SMART MINE | What is missing for a sustainable mine?

Last decade, with the enhancement of digital technology and big-data hype, there have been many discussions around how to digitalize a mine. A lot of management consulting firms define the same concepts, using different terms such as connected mine, digital mine, intelligent mine and smart mine. However, the core content of these four types of technology-enabled mines are conceptually same. They are focused on technological development only, without consideration of other important aspects of mining. Of course, technology is an enabler for the improvement of any mining business, but it does not cover everything.

With advances in technology, more mining companies have started to transform their business by adopting digital capabilities through the leveraging power of data. However, still there is a gap between where we now, and where we want to be in the future. The picture below shows different technologies we can use throughout the mining value chain.

Infographic: emerging technologies in the mining value chain

GREEN MINING | Sustainable business models are rapidly becoming the new norm in the mining sector

In 2015 the UN adopted a new set of aspirations for the next 15 years; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN defines 17 SDGs, which are broken down into 169 targets, for outlining an agenda for nations, NGOs and business leaders. These goals are intended to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity. What I did was to map these 17SDGs to mining content in order to cover social, economic and environmental sustainability. As an example, 2 SDGs such as life on land and life below water can be mapped to bio diversity.

It is good to see some mining companies are already driving SDGs. I have developed a tool to scan the social, economic and environmental sustainability of a mining company.

CONCLUSION | The next decade in mining will be driven by digital and sustainable business models

My prediction is that digital and sustainability wheels will drive the mining sector in the next decade. Imagine a world you can create that is driven by economic, social and environmental sustainability; a world in which we can be proud of ourselves. Let´s work together to build the mining sector. I am happy to discuss these concepts in detail if you want. Please reach out to me.

About the author:

Kash Sirinanda has a doctorate in mine planning and optimisation from the University of Melbourne, Australia. During his PhD studies and post-doctoral work at the University, Kash developed algorithms for generating designs that maximise the NPV of a mining operation. That work provides the basis for software that assists mine planners to design more profitable mines. Kash was also a visiting scholar at the Colorado School of Mines, USA. He has worked on various mining projects which include due diligence, operation, analytics, optimization and digital in different commodities around the globe. He is a keynote speaker and provides mining leaders with strategic direction, and visionary leadership. Kash´s vision is to engage, partner, and collaborate with leaders and decision makers to transform a business into a best-in-class, advanced digital and sustainable-enabled competency company.


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