Austmine’s Perth Innovation Roadshow: Five key themes

The event saw a good turnout across all sectors of the mining industry.

The organisation’s latest Mining Innovation Roadshow in Western Australia revealed a number of initiatives for the future of the mining and METS sectors.

Austmine held its Mining Innovation Roadshow in Perth during September.

The day featured presentations from industry leaders and collaborative discussion on prevalent issues to the future of our industry, including cultural change, digital transformation and re-shaping business models and partnerships.

Throughout the day we perceived five key themes that dominated conversations on mining innovation.

Innovation is not just about technology

There is a growing influence of drones, autonomous machines, the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and other advanced technologies impacting the mining space, but they only play one part of innovation.

Innovation is also about the business models we utilise and behavioural changes we can make as leaders in our organisations.

Having a good management process and structure to implement innovation helps to change people’s ways of thinking and engage the organisation from the top down, bringing your people along for the journey.

Changing people is the hardest thing to do and the technology will only work when people embrace it.

The workforce is changing

The impending skills gap in the mining industry has been a hot topic over the last 12 months and this was also the case at the Roadshow.

Leadership and management in our industry are approaching retirement and we must get the knowledge out of their heads and into technology to be utilised by our businesses.

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 the significant benefits we can derive from it.

We must shift our organisations to digital as well, creating an environment that is familiar for the next generation and where we can harness their skills for business improvement.

Failure is an option

As businesses and as individuals we do not like to fail. Failure is often seen as something that is negative, that we should be ashamed of or afraid of.

Our thinking around failure must change to adopting an approach where failure is part of the process and is a means to an end where we can draw on our experience, investigate why we failed and utilise this knowledge to create success in the future.

The mining industry is still widely risk averse and failure is seen negatively, while in many other industries companies are adopting a fast fail method to strive for greater results.

As Barrick Gold chief innovation officer Michelle Ash stated in her presentation, “One out of 10 things we try will be successful. We need to interrogate those 10 so that the successful approach will show itself.”

Transforming how we work together

Collaboration and business relationships will be key to successfully adopting innovation and embracing change in the mining industry.

Relationships between miners and METS have typically been transactional rather than strategic, while collaboration between mining companies has been a rarity.

Many of us face the same challenges, such as digital disruption and community expectations, so just how much more successful can we be by tackling these together or by sharing our learnings?

Disruption is here

Many of our greatest challenges are still thought of as future issues, but disruption to our industry is well and truly here.

This is coming from a range of sources, including digital technologies, social licence to operate, consumer expectations and new entrants to the mining industry. We must increase our ability to adapt to change to ensure we stay successful.

An example of this disruption is Apple committing to and making steps towards their policy to ‘stop mining the earth altogether.’

Just think about how challenging this could be for our industry if they are successful and if other powerful corporations adopt that approach.

Austmine will continue the innovation conversation with a forum in Singapore on December 5, along with many other events around Australia coming up.  

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