Tag Archives: Graeme Stanway

Mine electrification shift could create new business opportunities, report says

Heightened social pressure and a need for economically efficient mining practices will see Australia’s mining industry shift towards a future of automation, electrification and the ultimate goal of zero emissions on site, according to the State of Play: Electrification report.

The report states the majority (89%) of the globe’s leading mining executives expect mine sites across the world to electrify within the next 20 years.

Electrification is a game changer for the mining industry as it allows the complete removal of diesel from mines and, when combined with renewable energy, results in a decarbonised mine site.

Australia’s leading mining companies such as Rio Tinto, BHP, South 32 and OZ Minerals – along with Tesla – provided input into the report, which uncovered that the need to shift to low footprint, electric mines is being driven by economic, environmental and health related opportunities.

More specifically, nearly 79% of mining executives believe there will be a health-related industry class action in the next 15 years and 91% expect the shift to electrics will create new business opportunities.

It’s these perceived health risks – if nothing changes – and economic benefits that State of Play Co-Founder and Chairman, Graeme Stanway, says is driving the industry to take a close look at current practices and think: how can we do this better?

“Electric equipment will allow for a shift from the typical underground mine sites we see today in Australia with many pieces of heavy equipment, powered by diesel, operating underground in confined spaces alongside teams of people, towards a clean future of mining, not seen before,” he said.

“A future where machinery is safe, automated and battery powered; this would effectively cut out two of the biggest issues in mining: carbon impact and particulate exposure and result in zero carbon emission mines.”

While the industry as a whole understands these benefits, when it comes to individually implementing them as an organisation, cost becomes a key hurdle, according to Stanway.

“Our data shows renewables, all electric systems and batteries will help fuel the change towards a healthier, economically viable future of mining, but uncertainty remains when it comes to to which area to invest in first, and how,” Stanway says.

He says the industry should focus on collaborating to overcome cost barriers and uncertainty in technology choices that may be beyond the capacity of individual companies. And, while the mass adoption of electrification technology has so far been low, key players such as Independence Group, Gold Fields, South32, OZ Minerals and Barminco are joining forces to accelerate achieving the goal of zero emissions mines.

METS Ignited CEO, Adrian Beer, is part of this collaboration and says Australian mining companies have a huge advantage compared with their global counterparts when it comes to alternative energy sources.

“Here, in Australia, we have an abundance of renewables that the industry is tapping into, particularly in our most remote operations,” he said. “Local mine sites have the opportunity to install solar and wind, and battery energy storage systems to power their operations at a much cheaper cost than many global players.”

He added: “For the country to fully realise the opportunity of zero emissions mines, we also need to be able to effectively implement these technologies. We need to modernise our regulatory framework, and consider what skills our sector will need, across the entire range of the workforce, from trades and technicians, university graduates, through to our scientists and PhDs.”

Miners not taking cybersecurity risks seriously, report finds

While cybersecurity is today considered a major threat to all industrial companies, a recent report out of Australia has concluded it will take a catastrophic event for it to be taken seriously in the mining industry.

Through interviews, survey and analysis of Australia’s largest mining and service companies, including BHP, Rio Tinto, South32, and Anglo American, the ‘State of Play: Cyber Security Report’, from researchers at State of Play, has uncovered that 98% of top-level executives think a catastrophic event is required to drive an industry response to cybersecurity in mining.

This is despite State of Play Chairman and Co-founder, Graeme Stanway, saying the risk of cybersecurity failures in mining could be severe.

“In an increasingly automated and interconnected world, the risk of rogue systems and equipment is growing rapidly,” he says.

“If someone hacks into a mining system, they can potentially take remote control of operational equipment. That’s the level of risk that we are facing.”

Global Head of Cybersecurity at BHP, Thomas Leen, agreed and said the mining industry is up against archaic processes when it comes to evolving on the cybersecurity front.

“Mining as an industry has a low level of cybersecurity maturity, mainly due to legacy environments that lack basic capabilities,” he says.

The report went on to find that the second most likely driver to instigate change, after a catastrophic event, will be government led initiatives and responses.

Michelle Price, CEO of independent, not-for-profit organisation, AustCyber, believes public-private partnership is the key to driving change in the way the mining industry approaches cybersecurity.

“AustCyber has collaborated with METS Ignited and State of Play to conduct this survey as we see the potential to improve cybersecurity across the mining environment,” she says.

“There are several challenges specific to the mining sector as documented in the Australian Cyber Security Industry Roadmap, developed in conjunction with CSIRO – such as operational technology, connected equipment and sensors, availability of data, anomaly detection and the volatility of markets.

“There are plenty of growth opportunities – especially when the sector collaborates with organisations like AustCyber to have a coordinated voice on the kind of support it needs to push forward cyber resilience.”

South32 Head of Cybersecurity, Clayton Brazil, sees this collaboration as a strength of cybersecurity in the mining industry. “Cybersecurity is incredibly collaborative in mining, we know it’s a critical industry for our nation and we all want to be safer,” he says.

Brazil sees a strong cybersecurity capability as a strategic opportunity for South32. “Done properly, cybersecurity can be a competitive advantage for us,” he said.

Interestingly, when asked what is the most likely motivation for cyber attacks, 50% of responses identified extortion and theft as the most likely cause, followed by competition with 21% and politics with 19%.

METS Ignited CEO, Adrian Beer, says industry growth and sustainability will come from collaboration and the implementation of standards. “Mining operations are still made up of legacy closed systems that have customised integrations between them,” he says.

“However, the modern technology vendor community is trying to overcome these systems with new models; building collaboration and trust between mining and the technology sector will create a secure sustainable future.”

Beer also believes standards have a two-prong role to play. “There is clearly a need for both a strong set of standards to define what good looks like in terms of cybersecurity more broadly, and a set of industry standards to ensure that the specific needs are met to deliver those secure outcomes.”