Austmine’s Innovation Roadshow visited Perth on 13 September. It followed on from previous events hosted in Brisbane and Newcastle, aiming to stimulate discussion and showcase ideas across the country from miners and METS companies.
Common across all three events were themes addressing how teams, communities and management play a role in driving innovation to ensure the mining industry remains competitive. The Perth event featured an agenda with case study presentations and panel discussions from key people at mining companies such as Barrick Gold, Fortescue Metals Group and Roy Hill Holdings. Representatives from METS companies included acQuire, Thiess, Insitu, Micromine and METS Ignited who gave their insights into innovative technology and how to enable innovation within the METS sector.
Take a look at our key takeaways from the day:
Rebecca Kerr, General Manager, Technology of Roy Hill Holdings demonstrated a technology enabling, innovation roadmap in her presentation giving a glimpse into Roy Hill’s approach for developing smarter mines. Central to their vision is implementing smart programs across people, orebody, systems and assets to create safer operations, drive higher productivity and develop consistent and sustainable performance.
Rebecca outlined how they plan to make this journey incrementally, moving further and further away from manual decisions and operations to full automation.
Setting and mapping an innovation plan is integral to developing their mining operations along this path and is key for any mining company looking to utilise smarter mining techniques and technologies.
The digital twin concept is key to driving innovative change incrementally. While the concept of digital twins has been around since about 2002, it is only thanks to the Internet of Things that is has started to be cost effective to implement. A digital twin is a virtual model of a process, product or service allowing analysis of data and monitoring of systems to head off problems, prevent downtime, develop new opportunities and plan for the future through simulations.
Rebecca Kerr from Roy Hill Holdings presented how they use both manual and offline simulation to prove business value and ensure their processes and organisation design is optimised to its fullest. Four digital twins were highlighted – Deep Learning Concepts – Orebody Modelling; IoT Concepts – Lighting Towers in the Mining Pit; Spatial and Scanning and Technology and Skills.
In business, failure is often seen as something negative and to be avoided at all costs. During the panel discussion, Leadership in Mining Innovation, the guest speakers were asked how a company’s culture in mining can allow failure and how a leadership team can manage it best. The panel consisted of acQuire’s Chief Brand Officer, Astrid Facklemann; Rebecca Kerr, Roy Hill Holdings; Anthony De Domenico, Executive General Manager Strategy and Growth, Thiess; and Mark Boon, General Manager Transformation and Effectiveness, Evolution Mining.
The panellists acknowledged that the culture across the mining industry generally needs improving. The mining industry is still considered conservative and constrained. The panellists pointed out that one of the most important aspects of an innovative mindset is allowing failure and then assessing why a failure has occurred and improving from it.
The industry’s thinking around failure must change to adopting an approach where failure is part of the process and is a means to an end where people draw on experience, investigate the reasons why and utilise this knowledge to create success in the future. The mining industry is still widely risk averse and failure viewed negatively, while in many other industries companies are adopting a fast fail method to strive for greater results.
This was reiterated by As Michelle Ash, CIO, Barrick Gold in her opening presentation “One out of ten things we try will be successful. We need to interrogate those ten so that the successful approach will show itself.”
The future of mining towards digital has highlighted an impending skills gap in the mining industry. It has been a hot topic over the last year and was highlighted at the Roadshow. Leadership and management in the mining industry are approaching retirement and knowledge and skills transferred via succession plans to be utilised by businesses. Senior individuals leaving the workforce are being replaced by the next generation who have grown up in a digital world and are used to technology and all of its benefits. Companies must shift to digital as well, creating an environment that is familiar for the next generation and harnessing skills to maximise business.
For more follow up articles from the Innovation Roadshow head to Austmine news.