The mining industry is facing 5 major operational and maintenance challenges that will require new technologies to overcome. Learn how a frontline mine work management system, such as a connected worker solution, can help mining companies effectively meet and overcome these problems.
1. Climate action
Environmental protection tops the agenda for most mining companies in 2022. The industry is notoriously known for its impact on the environment. For example, a report by the US Environmental Protection Agency revealed that acid mine drainage and heavy metals contaminated more than 40% of stream reaches in western watersheds.
Miners are under pressure from climate activists and stakeholders to reduce carbon emissions and minimize their impact on local communities and biodiversity. The International Council on Mining and Metals announced that some of the world's largest miners pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. The timeline is daunting for an industry that largely relies on conventional resources. Miners need to find the right solutions to achieve sustainability.
2. Demand uncertainty
The world is moving towards renewable energies, spurring the demand for metals and minerals required for production and storage systems. Miners will need to secure funding and license to operate (LTO), and create strategies to overcome supply chain challenges.
While this energy transition creates an opportunity, advancements in technology bring the threat of substitution. Mining industry deals with projects with high lead times. Energy trends change over time and so does the demand for commodities. For example, we're now using NMC 622 and NCA batteries. Solid state batteries will soon replace these batteries before 2025. Miners need to follow technology trends and use scenario modeling for demand forecasting.
3. Technology and innovation
Artificial Intelligence, data science and automation technologies in mining are evolving rapidly. Blockchain technology is also making its way into this industry. These technologies create innovative solutions to solve operational challenges. Miners need to integrate these technologies to drive innovation and create mines of the future. They need to find use cases for technology solutions rather than implementing them for the sake of transformation.
Introduction of new technologies will also face resistance from employees, particularly in an industry that doesn’t belong to the digital space. User adoption defines the success of a digital initiative. Miners should draft their change management strategy before launching an initiative. Learn about managing change at different phases of digital transformation here.
4. Skills gap
Technology is shaping the future of the mining industry. On the other hand, it's widening the skills gap in their workforce. A survey by Hogan Lovells reported that 69% of respondents believe the skills gap is the greatest barrier for digital transformation in mining. Miners should consider a bottom-up approach to understand the challenges confronting their employees while deploying new technologies.
The Great Crew Change is adding to the skills gap as experienced workers are hanging their boots and young workers are entering the mines. Miners need to overhaul their training process to make sure the young workers do their jobs correctly. Leveraging mobile technologies like configurable digital work instructions will help miners address this challenge.
5. Operational costs and productivity challenges
Miners are fighting profit margin pressures due to increased shipping costs, decarbonization programs and input costs. They need to improve their productivity and reduce operational costs to mitigate the pressure and boost profitability.
Digital technologies have automated a large portion of mine operations. However, miners left frontline workers untouched by their digital transformation strategies. This disconnect is an opportunity to complement their digital ecosystems.
Frontline technicians in mines use paper forms for work orders, instructions, manuals, and data capturing. These manual practices leave room for errors and inefficiencies, creating productivity losses. Connecting these frontline workers with digital systems through mobile connected worker solutions like mWorkOrder eliminates barriers to excellence and increases profitability of mines.
Looking to improve operational efficiency, safety, and compliance? Request a demo of our connected worker solutions today to see how we can help you achieve your goals.