The mining industry is on an upward trajectory of electrification and social licence, as it continues to shake off a turbulent history, according to a State of Play report.
The mining survey platform’s ecosystem survey report was conducted in conjunction with the University of Queensland, CSIRO, METS Ignited and SLATE.
It found the biggest impact on innovation in mining over the next 15 years will be technological change, followed by environmental pressures.
State of Play chair Graeme Stanway recalled how COVID-19 has accelerated technological development to deal with these issues of electrification, health, and safety.
“COVID-19 has condensed 15 years of change in work practices into one,” Stanway said.
“The use of artificial intelligence to automate value chain decisions is poised to revolutionise the industry as datasets from across the value chain coalesce.”
The outcomes of this transformation, however, remain far more uncertain, as the industry untangles 15 years’ worth of learning in as little time as possible.
“Even if our government doesn’t enforce decarbonisation requirements, our customers’ governments are through to their suppliers, so we are forced to decarbonise anyway,” one mining company executive told the survey.
Following in this vein, the energy sources expected to power the industry are solar (up 11 per cent from 2010 to 83 per cent), gas (down 10 per cent to 52), and wind (up 16 per cent to 41).
Another mining executive told the survey that the power of solar energy has yet to be harnessed to its full capacity yet.
“People don’t realise that it’s cheaper right now to put in solar power than coal,” they said.
The glaring reason for cleaner mining operations is not only for the health of the environment, but for those working right at the coal face.
The report found that 76 per cent of industry executives believe there will be an industry-level class action on a health matter before 2040.
One services company chief executive officer told the survey their company enforced measures to improve health and safety and consequently tripled productivity.
Another said there was now no excuse to remain ignorant on mining health issues.
“If a board sees that class action statistic and does nothing, they should all be sacked,” they said.