The Mining Industry's Road Ahead

November 02, 2023

The recent Jo’Burg Indaba held in Johannesburg, South Africa was truly an eye-opening experience.

With the constantly increasing demand for minerals driven by the green revolution, almost every established mining precinct in the world is making hay while the sun shines, and indeed the sun will continue to shine for many years to come. The mining industry is a proven driving force for development, innovation and change, with mining and agriculture making up around half of the world’s GDP. And, the other half is largely dependent on those two sectors hence the importance of the mining industry in general.

The scale of the mining industry and a future that depends on it underpins worldwide economics. At the same time, the mining industry in South Africa in particular is faced with diminishing PGM commodity prices, logistical challenges in delivering products to port, access to reliable and predictable energy, access to water, security and complex regulatory frameworks which present substantial obstacles for the industry and the country as a whole to overcome.

Thankfully through collaboration, consultation and engagement between government and industry, as well as open honest and forthcoming discussion at events such as Jo’Burg Indaba there appears to be positive movement and development in dealing with the various domestic challenges faced in the mining industry.

Similarly, the mining industry is looking at any and every mechanism to enable it to remain profitable, productive, competitive and an attractive target for investment.

As sponsors for this year’s Jo’Burg Indaba, our partners at Accenture held a panel discussion focused on the various methods by which mining companies are not only pursuing social and governance transformations to deal with the domestic challenges present, but also pursuing digital transformation to ensure they stay at the forefront of this highly competitive industry.

Significant advances have been made in the last 10-15 years with far more advanced sensors now available in mine seismology. In addition, ore body modelling tools, mine scheduling solutions, automation in HME as well as drone survey, photography and photogrammetry are available, all of which make mining operations more efficient, more productive and safer.

During the Accenture-led discussion,  valid points were made around the fact that while the availability of new technologies in the mining industry has never been greater, adoption of those technologies in many operations is not where it could be for a range of different reasons be it budget, knowledge and expertise, inclination or risk aversion whether perceived or realistic.

What is clear is that technology provided by vendors such as AspenTech, implemented by our partners at Accenture, will drive the industry forward, ensure an ongoing license to operate, meaningfully impact the degree of sustainability of any given operation, and take mining operations into a bright future of the truly digital, safe, predictable and consistently profitable mine.

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