The Need For Innovation in the Mining Industry

The Need For Innovation in the Mining Industry

With the likes of rising costs, decreased productivity levels and falling commodity prices, the mining industry will continue facing challenging market conditions this year. But, companies like Core are embracing innovation which is helping them to lay the foundation of long-term business growth.

Tracking the Trends 2014

According to this report from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), to avoid or rather lessen the risks of this volatile industry, more companies need to start adopting innovative strategies with regards to safety, talent management and financial programs.

The report states that the industry is seeing an increase in the need for such innovation. While the companies cannot chance the state of global economic trends, they can indeed work towards changing the way that they operate. Companies should be embracing such opportunities to work at evolving their business and make use of technologies, processes and new mindsets to help strengthen long-term operations.

Top 8 Issues Affecting Mining Companies

According to Tracking the Trends, there are at least 10 issues currently affecting mining companies world-wide. Some key industry indicators have been highlighted in the report:

1.       Matching Supply to Demand

The ongoing weakness of the economy around the globe along with the decline of demand out of China have caused commodity prices to drop and that means performance dips in the industry. The good news is that long-term demand indicators have remained robust. So instead of shelving projects, suggests the report, mining companies need to find ways to weather the supply and demand imbalances.

2.       Contraction Costs

While mining productivity has hit a new low and commodity prices have weakened, input production costs have remained high. Miners need to improve overall productivity if they want to sustainably reduce costs. They also need to strengthen their reporting and management systems. Analytics will help to uncover underlying cost drivers and rationalise supply chains.

3.       Local Community Demands

Corporate reputations along with market valuations have been put at risk what with social media trends along with attention from monitoring bodies. Miners should be working towards building relationships, improving communication, developing local supply bases and sourcing local labour as well as sharing infrastructure among economic clusters.

4.       Innovative Imperative

Genuine improvement in performance comes when a company revises its underlying systems. Miners can innovate by adopting new technologies that enable design, planning, energy supply and the adoption of emerging technologies.

5.       Government Relations and Rising Hostility

Governments make particular demands on the mining sector in the form on contributions: royalties, taxes and other types of concessions too. The mining sector needs to improve their relations with government and in return, governments need to improve on regulatory stability. Miners can work towards opening the communication channels and they can do this by coming up with policy development lobbies and coordinating local infrastructure projects. Negotiating with all levels of government is also a good move.

6.       Cracking Down on Corruption

Having a zero tolerance regulatory environment does complicate compliance. To improve this, mining companies can adopt relevant internal controls and policies and work towards engaging in compliance audits along with risk assessments. Upgrading their systems will help to support sufficient reporting detail.

7.       Relooking Safety

In the mining industry, fatalities remain high. The industry needs to take a sophisticated approach to their safety analytics and start modelling high-risk events while breaking down data silos that tend to prevent them from identifying safety incident patterns accurately and workplace practices should be re-examined.

8.       Talent Gap

The shortage of talent remains a big issue in this industry. And that includes at executive level. As the workforce ages, so the talent gap will widen and closing it requires the industry to adopt new talent management strategies. Miners can standardise systems, welcome new training initiatives and take the necessary steps to attract skills and sector-savvy execs.

The Core Group

As for Core, our company is embracing innovation in the mining industry. Our company has enjoyed a long tradition of working with our clients to develop innovative processes to find processing solutions that will enable their projects to move forward.

Examples include:

  1. The Albion ProcessTM – the process was developed at Core in mid 1990s and is today a global technology favoured for atmospheric oxidative leaching of refractory precious and base metal ores.
  2. The Toowong Process – was developed with Xstrata Technology with the aim of removing arsenic/ antimony from “dirty” copper concentrates. Several pilot plants were run in 2011 and 2012 by Core which successfully treated copper concentrate by reducing arsenic levels from 1.2% As to <0.1% As.
  3. Scandium Solvent Extraction and Refining Process – the novel process was developed by Element 21 Pty Ltd for the recovery of Scandium by solvent extraction along with additional purification/refining steps and tested for Metallica Minerals. The pilot plant trials carried out by Core under the guidance of David Nakon from Element 21 Pty Ltd resulted in an ultrapure Scandium Oxide product of >99.99%.

 

For the mining industry to survive in today’s economic climes, miners need to start taking innovation on board.