Data-driven mining key to sector’s operations


Bindura Nickel Mine

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) A TECHNOLOGY executive believes firm leadership and the Cloud are crucial to mining operations in the age of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0)

“For companies to thrive, we will need strong leaders who enforce good governance and push for innovation-led organisational culture if they are to deliver agile mining operations for the future,” said Nkosi Kumalo, Executive Manager for Mining at Business Connexion (BCX).

He said as Industry 4.0 became a global reality, mining processes were set to be digitised and automated and efficiencies will come from integrating processes, improving productivity and delivering operations that could allocate resources effectively, predictably and efficiently.

According to the executive, as a mineral rich country, South Africa faced its own set of challenges as the sector gears up for digital transformation and the only way to overcome these challenges is to “get smart” and adapt.

Kumalo said digital had long been a mainstream priority for mining companies globally, with key priorities mainly focused on investments in technology, building data and intelligence capabilities, focus on innovation and integration between IT and operational teams.

The sector has long harnessed digital innovation with tools such as fingerprint identification and digital breathalysers having been in play for years.

“In many ways, this makes the case for digital transformation harder to push forward,” Kumalo said.

“While some leaders acknowledge it as a fundamental system overhaul, many are hamstrung by the realities of things such as labour constraints and outdated infrastructure.”

While some 70 percent of mining companies globally are still in the early stages, in South Africa the last two years have seen some of the larger players launching major digital transformation projects, leaving a gap between the leaders and the rest of the industry.

This is seen as a massive opportunity for transformation in the mid-tier market to harness digital innovation.

“We believe the real benefits of transformation will come off the back of clever adjustments with regards to harnessing data-driven insights to radically optimise productivity,” Kumalo said.

According to him, for many South African mining companies, cloud-based systems for operational data management may not be as high on the agenda as they are for global companies.

– CAJ News

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