Innovation is the new key to survival
At its most basic, innovation presents an optimal strategy for controlling costs. Companies that have invested in such technologies as remote mining, autonomous equipment and driverless trucks and trains have reduced expenses by orders of magnitude, while simultaneously driving up productivity.
Yet, gazing towards the horizon, it is rapidly becoming clear that innovation can do much more than reduce capital intensity. Approached strategically, it also has the power to reduce people and energy intensity, while increasing mining intensity.
Capturing the learnings
The key is to think of innovation as much more than research and development (R&D) around particular processes or technologies. Companies can, in fact, innovate in multiple ways, such as leveraging supplier knowledge around specific operational challenges, redefining their participation in the energy value chain or finding new ways to engage and partner with major stakeholders and constituencies.
To reap these rewards, however, mining companies must overcome their traditionally conservative tendencies. In many cases, miners struggle to adopt technologies proven to work at other mining companies, let alone those from other industries. As a result, innovation becomes less of a technology problem and more of an adoption problem.
By breaking this mindset, mining companies can free themselves to adapt practical applications that already exist in other industries and apply them to fit their current needs. For instance, the tunnel boring machines used by civil engineers to excavate the Chunnel can vastly reduce miners" reliance on explosives. Until recently, those machines were too large to apply in a mining setting. Some innovators, however, are now incorporating the underlying technology to build smaller machines—effectively adapting mature solutions from other industries to realize more rapid results.
Re-imagining the future
At the same time, innovation mandates companies to think in entirely new ways. Traditionally, for instance, miners have focused on extracting higher grades and achieving faster throughput by optimizing the pit, schedule, product mix and logistics. A truly innovative mindset, however, will see them adopt an entirely new design paradigm that leverages new information, mining and energy technologies to maximize value. […]
Approached in this way, innovation can drive more than cost reduction. It can help mining companies mitigate and manage risks, strengthen business models and foster more effective community and government relations. It can help mining services companies enhance their value to the industry by developing new products and services. Longer-term, it can even position organizations to move the needle on such endemic issues as corporate social responsibility, environmental performance and sustainability.
(http://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ru/Document s/energy-resource /ru_er_tracking_the_trends_2015_eng.pdf)
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