The Asia Miner

OCT-DEC 2017

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

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Volume 14 • Issue 4 | 2017 | ASIA Miner | 9 however it is a purpose beyond just ourselves as a large percent- age of mining profits go into super and pension funds - the benefits are widespread." Ian Larsen says tier two and three companies are best placed to make maximum use of digitalisation because they are small enough to be agile but big enough to actually matter. "South32 is a good example and has been moving along this path. Sim- ilar companies like Anglo, Newmont and Vedanta will get there faster because they want to get there … and they must. The big players are already at or near the bottom of the cost curve and are running major tier one assets at low-costs while many tier two and three companies are further up the curve, and are determined to be as competitive as possible. "Many of these companies also do not have the internal re- sources to transform themselves and need external help and guidance. The majors have their own departments to drive this process and within these departments are multiple groups look- ing at various ways of increasing productivity but it is a slow process for them. In some cases the big boys are first cab off the rank with innovation, but often will be overtaken by other more agile players." Time for change Ian Larsen says the mining industry is in the early stages of a pro- ductivity transformation and many involved believe it is necessary. There is broad agreement on the need for mining companies to adopt advanced technology and end-to-end value chain optimisa- tion to improve outcomes. The majority of companies also concede that current methods have seen only marginal improvements over the last 50 years and that the industry is behind on capabilities that are standard in other industries. He says most companies believe the current economic conditions in the industry will persist, creating openness to adopt innovative ap- proaches in a traditionally conservative industry. While some mining companies and OEMs have implemented islands of improvement, including areas such as truck automation, no one has addressed the challenge comprehensively. "The biggest obstacles to optimisation and productivity improve- ment in mining are challenges that GE has successfully tackled in other industries." South32 example The digital transformation has to come from the top or very close to the top in order for it to gain traction. "At South32 the chief operating officer for the region led the process and took the CEO along with him. This is much easier for tier two or three companies," Ian Larsen says. Earlier this year South32 and GE signed a three-year strategic partnership to assist in development of South32's technology road- map and activation of its digital transformation. The partnership, GE's first with an Australian mining company in the digital space, is a step towards playing a much bigger role in the global mining sector. "Bringing the world of operational technology and information technology together to monitor equipment and systems remotely and predict future behavior is a game changer," South32's CEO Graham Kerr says. "It has the potential to identify and solve a prob- lem before it affects operations." The company's chief technology officer Ricus Grimbeek says, "By partnering with GE, we have an opportunity to transform the way we work. If we get this right, the result won't just be an incremental improvement but a new level of efficiency and performance." GE CEO and chairman Jeff Immelt says, "We look forward to working with South32 to help them optimise operations and accel- erate the digital transformation of the mining industry at large." Brilliant Mine An example of how GE is moving into the digital age is the 'Brilliant Mine' concept, which applies to underground and open cut oper- ations. Ian Larsen says GE is working its way up the value chain puzzle with this digital 'environment'. "We optimise processing well; we manage asset performance well; we are moving into the plan- ning piece; we have our first customer lined up for 'Brilliant Blend'; and we are working with a research organisation around the 'Brilliant Blast' piece. There are many opportunities to drive productivity now with these initiatives before we need to look at the exploration phase with 'Brilliant Explore'." Digital mining is enabling a safety culture.

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