THE mining sector in the region is facing severe stress not witnessed in a long time which will see thousands of workers losing their jobs, and a situation that could strain the revenue streams of Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, whose projected economic growth for the year depend on good mining output and better commodity prices.
For Namibia, this situation has seen the sector which bankrolls up to 25 percent of national GDP perform below its optimum standard and hence innovation and risk taking make well be a future way out for this crucial industry.
Rick Howes, Dundee Precious Metals CEO, has reiterated in the past that while declining prices have cast a negative light on the status of the mining industry, the facts still speak to the tremendous role mining plays, however, the industry requires application of the same innovative principles to business as seen in software, financial services and retail.
It is time that mining firms started focusing on how they can build the mines of the future that use technology and data to operate more efficiently and effectively. Imperatively, competitiveness in mining in the near future will no longer be premised upon land and capital, as it has been in the past. Instead, the world is quickly moving towards a technology-and data-enabled period in which success and failure will depend on a mines ability to extract efficiencies and productivity from the information collected at their operations.
The result will see the evolution of traditional mining companies into knowledge-based companies that use data analysis and technology to optimise the extraction of minerals. In so doing, mines will cope when they come face to face with non-traditional competitors, companies whose superiority in technology and data analysis will make the physical extraction of a metal a secondary concern. Although risks have to be taken to make these advances, they are pale in comparison to the many other risks that mining faces as they continue to operate in the traditional ways that they have been since independence in 1990.
The tools and trades for 20th-century mining are being pushed aside by a new generation of techniques and processes that draw their inspiration from a variety of knowledge industries. With this change comes demand for the same type of talent that currently flows to software, gaming and other popular technology sectors. Mining needs that talent too. Ultimately, it’s fair to say that for mining, moving forward requires a new type of risk-taking that places technology and its utilisation both under and above ground as a top priority.
To facilitate this, mines need to build an ecosystem around their industry that isn’t just about the movement of raw materials, but rather about the exchange of information.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015