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“Indaba Preview: Mining And The Fourth Revolution”


Category: Management Features Last Updated on 29 January 2018 Hits: 161

Technology is bound to disrupt mining companies, suppliers, service providers, and manufacturers. By Leon Louw

The run-up to this year’s Mining Indaba in Cape Town has been beset with political uncertainty, regulatory instability, and irreversible technological advances in the mining industry. The exploration space in South Africa has virtually been shut down by hostile government ideology and ludicrous policy changes, while the dearth of significant expansion and new development projects are almost non-existent.

Not only are mining companies hesitant to invest in a country where there is so much uncertainty and confusion, but, added to that, is the challenge of deeper ore bodies that are becoming more difficult to mine. Nevertheless, apart from one or two mergers and acquisitions in 2017, the wheels have continued turning at established operations. But, it was not business as usual. The tough economic environment, complexity of ore bodies, regulatory constraints, and rising costs have forced mining companies to become more efficient and productive. Moreover, it has necessitated the need for mines to ‘modernise’, adapt to continued variability, and embrace technology. Technology is set to become a major game-changer in the mining industry in South Africa, and it might just be the factor that prevents its demise.

What the challenging situation in South Africa has proven, is that all new projects will have to go deeper (which will require better technology and new equipment) or further, and for South African companies, that means venturing into the rest of Africa, which presents immense challenges, yet undeniable opportunities. Africa is the new frontier for mining companies and its suppliers and relevant services. The continent’s geology hosts world-class mineral deposits. Infrastructure in terms of rail, road, electricity, and ports is a constraint, but the situation is slowly improving in most countries.

Mining companies have a clean canvas in Africa, and that is a big advantage. New mines can be designed and planned to integrate modern technology and innovation, taking into account health, safety, and the environment. However, the entire mining industry, including suppliers, providers of services, and manufacturers need to see with new eyes and re-think the traditional ways of doing things. Mining as we know it has already changed substantially, and is set to undergo more profound changes as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution. ‘Modernising’ is probably the best way to describe what mining companies and suppliers need to do. Read the full article below:

SRK Africa