On Wednesday 3 May, MEC Mining hosted a breakfast forum at the Brisbane Club, which featured an exciting panel discussion with leading industry experts.
At the event, Lucas Dow of Integrated Global Partners delivered a keynote presentation entitled “Information and technology within the resources sector – our saviour or hindrance?” following which panellists discussed market conditions and the technology trends that influence them.
Mr Dow observed that the resources sector isn’t out of the woods just yet, as “there is greater volatility, complexity and uncertainty in the market, and the magnitude of price instability is increasing and compressing”. He then posed the question “how are we going to tackle this as an industry?”
Historically, the resources sector has typically responded to downturns by cutting costs, reducing human capital and divesting non-core assets, and to a lesser extent investing in business improvement programs and technologically driven changes.
The real impact that technology, innovation and information have had on the mining industry over the last 25 years was questioned by Mr Dow, by highlighting productivity and safety statistics sourced from ABS and Safe Work Australia. Labour, capital and multifactor productivity all steadily decreased in the sector between 2003 and 2012, and industry fatalities increased between 2010 and 2015, despite the adoption of new technologies.
Attendees at the forum hypothesised that this could be due to the industry’s comparatively low investment in innovative initiatives, with one guest asking, “has our technology spend over that time been robust enough to truly effect this data?”
Mr Dow pointed to examples of mining technology success, such as an oil industry case study where technology was implemented to drive value, and concluded that technology and innovation are not stand alone saviours, but certainly have the potential to create more predictable and reliable outcomes if an integrated, value-based approach is employed.
Panellists Jason Economidis, Vice President at Orica, Tim Cooper, Chief Innovation Officer at MEC Mining and Dr Penny Stewart, Managing Director at PETRA Data Science all shared their thoughts on how mining companies should respond to industry challenges.
“Leadership and culture are key in increasing productivity”, according to Mr Economidis, while Tim Cooper stated the importance of implementing technology across domains and breaking down silos of expertise, in order to “free up more time for innovative ideation, and then leveraging these ideas to deliver value”.
Dr Stewart shared that in her experience implementing data science solutions for mining companies, discipline and value are critical to success.
“Technology needs to be embedded into corporate platforms with a defined return on investment, as well as a timeline and accountability for achieving these measured results”, she said.
When asked about the key to accelerating a company’s adoption of innovation by an attendee, Dr Stewart explained that being agile and cutting projects that aren’t succeeding quickly is vital.
“Mining companies need to be open to ‘rapidly failing’. With a more agile culture and the capacity to readily accept failure, they can then move on to more productive and profitable projects”, she said.
Overall, the event was thought-provoking and incited interesting and varied discussion.
MEC would like to thank the esteemed speakers and panellists for participating, and our valued clients who attended and contributed to the session.
To find out more about MEC Mining events, visit: https://www.mecmining.com.au/event-blog/