Industry articles

The Impact of Digital Transformation

Mining is undoubtedly the cornerstone of the Australian economy and puts us on the world stage for the delivery of some of the world’s greatest deposits of metals & minerals. Amongst the booms and busts, one industry continues to grow and transform.

Australian miners, and retrospective communities, are all too familiar with adjusting their sails to weather the storm. Back in 2015 the tumbling iron ore and coal prices saw small mining towns go from bustling mini-cities to ghost towns in a blink of an eye. A time in the Australian economy that I'm sure any property or share market investor remembers all too well. New mining expansions and investments were put on hold and the mining workforce took a blow on all fronts, from conditions, to pay and, for many, loss of employment. This was just one of the times in Australian history of mining that marked the end of a long and lucrative mining boom that was mostly fuelled by China.

2020 has been a year of new. A year of growth, not just in Australia but worldwide. Of course, there is COVID-19 that has widely been spoken about and impacted the world trade on an exponential level. A pandemic that will take economies across the world a great deal of time to recover from. But, if we take a deeper look into Australian mining and the inner workings of individual companies, we see a movement across the board in 2020 that has gone mostly under the radar. This year has seen a great increase in the introduction to digital technologies infiltrating Australian mines. We have seen Automation, Robotics and Operational Hardware find their way into the mines for the past decade, a movement that embraces a synergy between those wanting better safety governance and companies who want the best result for their investors. This movement has allowed and focused their endeavours on the avoidance of human/ machine contact. Further, Hardware tools are being used to greatly decrease tasks being carried out manually. Sensors are being used to avoid catastrophe in mines, and more recently, to assist miners in monitoring their fatigue and hydration.

Additionally, the mining community have seen robotics being used in mining recoveries such as Pike River which will gain insight and peace to those still without answers. We are seeing mines adapt to the idea of a digitally enabled workforce. All cards are on the table and workers are starting to educate themselves on the digital movement before deeming the change a complete replacement of humans, which we all know it is not. Be it an open cut or an underground pit, mines are choosing to embrace new technologies on offer to keep their people safe and empower and connect field workers with ROC’s. We are seeing not only the blue-chip miners embracing these innovations but also the smaller players as well. Obzervr has had substantial impacts in integrating different enterprises, platforms, and ecosystems together to deliver one streamline, user-friendly app that becomes the face of the operating model. The Obzervr platform delivers data-driven optimisation opportunity across sites, and leverages AI to drive data-driven excellence. Obzervr also partners with other suppliers who sit within, and beyond, the traditional value chain to provide real-time insights and support for the optimal workings as a holistic view of the operating model.

The impact of Digital Transformations across mining is going to be a game-changer for workers, companies, and investors at large. We are going to see leaner profit margins that will be better equipped to carry the inevitable ebbs and flows of mining. We will see a reduction of C02 emissions and, with safety at a primal position in this data-driven mining development, we will see workforces embracing the change.

There have been plenty of storms weathered in the realm of Australian mining since the inception. From downturns labelled boom to bust and more recently the mining community calling for the Government to introduce stricter safety legislation, it is an industry that certainly shares as many highs as it does lows. Mining is undoubtedly the cornerstone of the Australian economy and puts us on the world stage for the delivery of some of the world’s greatest deposits of metals & minerals.

Still at inception stage, Digital Transformation, at this point, is just the tip of the iceberg. The mining industry will be changed forever and in ways we didn’t know could exist.

Digital Transformation Initiative: Mining and Metals, sums it up nicely.
“Putting a value on digital transformation: Our value-at-stake analysis is a quantitative model that aims to assess the cumulative value impact over the next 10 years of digital transformation initiatives on the mining and metals industry, its customers, society and the environment (See Section 5).

Key findings from this analysis show that digitalization could generate:
– More than $425 billion of value for the industry, customers, society, and environment over the next 10 years (to 2025). This is the equivalent of 3-4% of industry revenue during the same period.
– More than $320 billion of industry value over the next decade, with a potential benefit of approximately $190 billion for the mining sector and $130 billion for the metals sector. The total for mining and metals is equivalent to 2.7% of industry revenue and 9% of industry profit.
– A reduction of 610 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, with an estimated value to society and the environment of $30 billion.
– An improvement in safety, with around 1,000 lives saved and 44,000 injuries avoided. This equates approximately to a 10% decrease in lives lost and a 20% decrease in injuries in the industry

Move with the industry demands. The time is now.