Wikistrat, a global crowdsourcing platform, and Sandpit Innovation, a consulting firm based in Perth, Australia, recently published a report that explores the future of the mining industry. The report, which was compiled after engaging with a team of 90 experts from the fields of futurism, disruptive technologies, innovation and mining, generated many proposals in more than a week’s time.
The review combined the experts’ insights on how they imagine the mining industry a decade from now. This was followed by a vote to help decide on the most likely scenarios.
The report highlighted primary findings that rising competition over talent, advancements in information technologies, and growing demands for transparency from investors and the public would lead mining company employees to call for management to make changes. Those changes could include embracing and applying new standards, in which information sharing was promoted to boost public support.
The analysis notes that such transparency will be necessary for any decision-making process and adds that this open-access setting will also see more data and automation being used. The demand and value of the two is expected to grow in the near future. The review also notes that the change in standards and the way things operate is expected to reflect the demands from both regulators, communities and employees as well as the public. This is because consumers may raise the bar by demanding that companies commit to the ESG governance standards.
However, while new technologies are considered important in keeping the mining industry current, experts note that they observed no major risks associated with the disruption of the natural resources sector by companies from Silicon Valley.
Instead, they believe that Tier II mining companies will emerge and begin adopting digital technologies at a rapid rate, which they will use to enhance production, reduce their environmental footprint and decrease overall costs.
The report notes that smaller companies will use new technologies to assist them in exploring areas that weren’t deemed profitable, which could open the market to new deposits and increase efficiency and productivity, thus establishing a burgeoning market with many new suppliers. The experts believe that this trend will continue to accelerate as the prices of raw materials such as uranium, gold, zinc and copper continue rising.
The study also adds that the analysis of fuel consumption and advances in data aggregation combined with the adoption of remote operation will likely offer tier II mining companies the ability to extract minerals at a greater efficiency and decrease costs. This will in turn prompt complete automation, and with less labor needed to operate mining equipment, tier II mining companies will grow their technology usage with a focus on autonomous and remote operations.
Many companies such as Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE American: UEC) are already using advanced technologies such as in-situ recovery. This particular technology reduces mining costs and is more environmentally friendly than conventional extraction methods.
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