Mining survey finds increasing role for technology to solve industry’s biggest challenges

Some time in a simulator might have prevented this mishap (the vehicle was unoccupied). Image courtesy NIOSH-image, Centers for Disease Control

Every year, Ventyx conducts a survey of mining industry executives around the world, half of whom reside in the company C-suite.  The findings from the 2012 edition were previewed yesterday at Ventyx World by Dan Miklovic of Lean Manufacturing Research, which conducted the survey.

At first glance, they’re hardly surprising.  The top three challenges identified by these managers are perennial favorites:

  1. Workforce safety (31% of respondents)
  2. Capital projects (25% of respondents)
  3. Production effectiveness (21% of respondents)

The rest of the choices listed were tagged as a top challenge by less than 10 percent of the 374 companies surveyed.

However, despite facing long-term trends like shrinking reserves, declining ore quality and increasing costs, mining CxO’s remain optimistic.  Specifically, there is a clear consensus that the industry is poised for change and technology, while a challenge in itself, holds many of the answers.

For example, to attack the workforce safety issue, mining companies might look to simulators for training haul truck drivers just as airlines use flight simulators to train pilots. Still, introducing such programs will require a shift in thinking, but one that may already be underway.

As evidence, the survey findings point to the increasing number of mining CIOs who came to their current positions from outside the industry rather than from another department within the company.  These are people who view technology as a way to make change, and are perhaps given more latitude to ask “dumb questions.”

The 2013 survey, which will begin in the coming weeks, will be expanded to examine not just what the industry’s greatest challenges are, but how they are being addressed.  Look for more innovative solutions like robotics and remote operations in addition to the truck simulator… coming soon to a mine near (or not so near) you.


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About the author

Bob Fesmire

Bob Fesmire is a Content Manager at ABB, based in Cary, North Carolina. He has written more than 150 articles and white papers on a variety of topics including energy efficiency, industrial automation and big data. In addition to his work at ABB, Bob is also the co-author of Energy Explained, a non-technical introduction to all aspects of the energy industry.
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