Innovation key to mining

2019-04-24 06:02
Andrew Lane Photo: Supplied

Andrew Lane Photo: Supplied

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Innovation is imperative for the future of mining in South Africa.

This was emphasised by industry expert, Andrew Lane, during an engagement with students at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Business School on the Bloemfontein campus.

He was a guest lecturer at this event hosted by the university on 5 April.

Lane proposed that new information, mining technology and energy know-how are the hallmarks of the fourth industrial revolution.

Lane, the leader of energy and resources of Deloitte, emphasised the importance of such innovation during his presentation that focused on the future of mining in South Africa.

“The future is intelligent mining. It is not just about technology, it is about changing the way you do business,” said Lane.

“What gives you a sustainable competitive advantage is the rate at which you innovate,” he said.

According to Lane, paradigm shifts in the South African mining industry may have resulted in approximately 100 000 job losses during the past four years.

“However, mining companies stand to achieve significant gains through applying innovation.”

Despite the fact that most of South Africa’s mines are nearing the end of their lives, mining remains a large employer and attractor of investments.

This ensures that the country holds a competitive advantage in the global economy.

Lane is adamant about the prospect of revival through innovation.

“Even though we have declined from 20% to 5% in terms of gross domestic product contributions, mining remains a large contributor to export earnings,” he said.

While some physical resources are inaccessible using current technology, Lane believes new mineral-processing technologies help tap into previously uneconomical mineral deposits.

In addition to the environment, three dimensional visualisation cameras can track employees and equipment.

According to Lane, integrating mining, energy and information technology will ensure that companies reduce people, capital and energy intensity, while increasing mining intensity.

“The impossible can be achieved if technology is used for developmental outcomes, employment, and improving standards of living,” he said.

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