The Asia Miner

JUL-SEP 2019

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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Page 46 of 59

the asia miner • volume 16 • issue 3 45 SUPPLIER NEWS Far-sighted mining houses are delving deeper into the technology resources of their suppliers, aiming more than ever to leverage outside innovaঞon for their own producঞvity. Protracted pressure on margins over many years has put miners' focus squarely on producঞvity. Lower commodity prices with a steadily rising cost base and growing compliance requirements have created a perfect storm. Africa has not been le[ behind in terms of technology-focused efforts to raise producঞvity, with the development of one of the world's first automated mines in Mali. To pursue this direcঞon, mines are geমng closer to suppliers, to beer understand what they have to offer – both now and in the future. Making this possible is the conঞnuous advance in digital technology and data management. For success depends not just on engaging a supplier's new technology; it must integrate – preferably seamlessly – with the mine's ever more complex system of planning, monitoring and reporঞng. The tradiঞonal 'commodity bid' by a mining company's procurement department is becoming less and less useful to a corporate producঞvity strategy. When a mine places an order for the supply of emulsion explosive, for instance, the tender may have tradiঞonally prioriঞsed the price element. If a mine has a strategic focus on raising its milling efficiency, however, it will be looking beyond the emulsion as a commodity. It will rather be looking at how the supplier can contribute to beer blasঞng methods – to opঞmise key blasঞng outcomes like fragmentaঞon. Underground mines will also want to quanঞfy the benefits of emulsions in terms of sha[ efficiency, as emulsions do not require dedicated sha[ ঞmes and can even be dropped into underground workings via dedicated pipelines. In this way, larger miners are increasingly wanঞng to know about how a supplier's technology offering will promote long-term producঞvity gains. This means that any supplier that talks about 'partnership' with mining customers has to put their money where their mouth is – to ensure they have the capacity to integrate their technology systems with mining operaঞons. Only then can mines get the full operaঞonal benefit, while properly tracking and quanঞfying its impact on the whole enterprise. TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION Mines are looking for producঞvity tools that integrate with their mine systems. The 'Internet of Things' now makes this possible – and technology partners are soon going to be required to connect their soluঞons with mines' open data systems. TRANSPARENCY This trend is demanding greater transparency from both sides. Some of the larger mining players are bringing suppliers into their confidence about strategic intenঞons going forward. At the same ঞme, they are wanঞng more detail on what is in suppliers' technology pipelines. APPLIED RESEARCH Beyond the demand for outcomes-based technology – where the soluঞon performs its current role – mines are increasingly looking for future improvements. This search even includes applied research, exploring completely different ways of doing things. INNOVATION TRACK RECORD Here, the capacity of the supplier to iniঞate and follow through on applied research is becoming more of a consideraঞon for the mining majors. A supplier's track record in the ideaঞon and commercialisaঞon of producঞvity-enhancing technology is likely to become more valued. The beauty of big data in this context is that suppliers' impact on producঞvity could be beer gauged, even beyond their specific aspect of a mine's value chain. As growing volumes of data are collected on each aspect of a mine operaঞon, there are increasingly sophisঞcated analyঞcal tools to make the data meaningful. This includes drawing links between cause and effect – where improvements in one aspect of mine acঞvity lead to savings or beer performance in another. The growing interest shown by mines in the technology pipelines of their supply partners is an encouraging trend. The insights that this provides will hopefully feed the mining industry's vision of what may be technologically possible going forward. It will also help guide the direcঞon of much-needed research and development – on which narrow margins have had a depressing effect in recent years. Joe Keenan sees mining innovaon as a necessity for successful operaons Partners' tech pipelines vital to mine productivity By Joe Keenan, Chief Execuঞve Officer, BME

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