Monday, 16 September 2019 11:56

Robotics, automation to impact ‘transformation’ of mining industry

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Robotics and automation will have the biggest impact on the global mining industry in the next 15 years, according to mining executives.

Executives surveyed by researchers at Perth-based research group State of Play say the mining sector has been relatively immune to the disruption felt by other industries in the past decade but, according to the researchers the industry is poised for a major shake-up – and is on the brink of “extraordinary transformation”.

The survey of 399 of the world’s largest mining and service companies included Australian companies Rio Tinto, BHP, South32 and Oz Minerals.

State of Play chair and co-founder, Graeme Stanway says mining business models have remained relatively stable over the past 20 years, but that’s all about to change.

“In the next ten and even five-year timeframes, some mine sites will be largely unrecognisable, and in some cases, almost invisible. Industry leaders are setting their sights heavily toward AI, automation and sensing tech.

And Stanway says this is only the tip of the iceberg.

“Once these technologies are fully integrated and fuelled by renewable resources, the level of precision, speed and accuracy that can be achieved will alter more than just profits, it will ultimately refocus the world’s view of mining as an industry with a far smaller environmental footprint than ever before.

“Through technological advances we’re seeing social and environmental expectations at unprecedented highs. In order to continually attract talent and optimise results through innovation, mining must meet the growing need for transparency of its products.”

And the survey report found that top-level executives are no longer feeling exempt from the “rising tide of social and environmental expectations”, with more than half of the respondents indicating the need for transparency will be a major value driver in the next 15 years.

According to State of Play, historically this concept of “provenance” wasn’t a factor when it came to mining as the supply chain, beyond the raw material, took the spotlight – something Stanway says that is in the throes of change.

“Telling the story of where minerals are from and how they are sourced to gain competitive advantage is one of the most untapped areas of value in mining. Through our discussions with industry leaders it’s clear this will become an area of focus in the coming years,” Stanway said.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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