A greener future will require more mining than ever before, meaning collaboration and the adoption of new technologies across the industry’s entire value chain is no longer an option, but a necessity, organisers of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) say.
This will be among the key challenges being addressed by industry leaders and innovators at the conference, due to take place on November 2-4, in Sydney, Australia.
According to key players in mining equipment, technology and services (METS) space, who will be speaking at the forum, there’s an urgent need for the industry to dramatically increase its uptake of sustainable technologies.
AspenTech Vice President and General Manager of Metals and Mining, Jeannette McGill, says not being at the cutting edge of available technology can be risky for mining companies.
“Technology is mandatory as it underwrites the future for mines, especially the ones mining lower-grade metals,” she said. “It’s these technologies that are going to allow us to mine and process more efficiently and allow us to have less impact on the environment.
“We can be more robust in how we push out the technologies into the market, but the constraints are around a skills base to absorb it, but also the adoption of technologies doesn’t come without a cost.”
Paul Berkovic, Chief Commercial Officer at I4 Mining by Rayven, agrees initially some technologies are hard to adopt but will eventually have an extremely significant impact on productivity, safety and in meeting demand for critical minerals vital to future energy solutions, including solar panels and wind farms.
“Competitively, it will be unavoidable, but there will also be huge environmental benefits to the adoption of this technology which consumers should understand because mining is not going anywhere,” Berkovic said. “It’s a really important part of our economy but how do we make it a more friendly part of the economy than it currently is perceived as?”
Ethically-conscious consumers are one of the major driving forces behind the mining sector’s transition, according to METS Ignited General Manager, Kylah Morrison, who says they are more influential on the industry than ever before thanks to the pressure they put on end-user manufacturers.
“You’re seeing a lot of those end users, which maybe had two or three steps before the raw materials got to them, starting to have to take responsibility for what those interim steps are and make them more secure, so we’re seeing miners have a more direct relationships with end users,” Morrison said.
“Fortunately, with data and computing power, we can offer that transparency. Apple, for example, could say to the consumer who’s purchasing an iPhone or an iPad: ‘we know for sure that we’re providing a carbon neutral or low carbon product’.”
With that community influence in mind, it’s also the responsibility of mining companies around the world to ensure they are engaging these technologies in a thoughtful way, rather than making reactionary decisions to engage in short-term solutions that may not be manageable in the future.
“The mining space has been at the vanguard of technology to a certain extent,” Berkovic said. “It’s had self-driving vehicles and all sorts for 20-30 years now, but what is happening now is a whole lot of these new novel technologies are coming out but they’re being adopted in a sort of ‘point and shoot’ manner,” Berkovic said.
IMARC Conference Director, Sherene Asnasyous, says with such a diverse cross section of the mining and resources industry attending, the event is a unique opportunity for collaboration to address evolving challenges such as this.
“IMARC will shine a spotlight on the role the METS sector is taking in driving the global energy transition, how it is bringing innovation to the exploration and development of new future-facing resources, and how it is helping balance the needs of the developed and the developing world, as well as local communities and environments, in the resource transition,” Asnasyous said.
“At its core, IMARC creates a global conversation and is all about the business of mining and resources, providing extensive opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing and cross-sector engagement to help drive a smarter, more productive industry of the future.”
International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC, in Sydney, Australia