The Need for Digital Adoption in Mining and the Key Elements for Success

With the technological advances in the mining industry steadily climbing to new and exciting heights, the industry needs to find novel ways to adapt and evolve in response to these changes.

This is where Zane Prickett, a celebrated chemical engineer, comes in. On a recent episode of Full Production, Zane and I spent some time delving into the technological challenges that lie ahead, and the direction that industry will need to take in order to adapt. Zane undoubtedly has a good standing in this discussion, as he is a leading contributor to the growing resources innovation community, and has taken on the role of director for multiple technologies and resource start-ups, such as StartupWA, CORE Resources Innovation Hub and UnEarthed Solutions.

The Need for Proper Data Entry Processes

One of the key points that came from our conversation was the importance of accurate and succinct data entry. However innocuous data entry may seem, it is actually a critical factor within the industry, “especially as we move into autonomous operations, data will drive your operation,” says Zane.  He feels that knowledge of proper data inputting is so important to the future of mining, every worker needs to have a general understanding of good data practices.

He states that “a maintainer of equipment is not going to go away,” meaning, although there may be a future for fully automated maintenance systems, the takeover is way off in the distance. Therefore, we have to develop concise data input methods as part of our current systems, as they rely on accurate data as a way to establish exactly what needs maintenance. It occurred to me, that not only do upper management need good data input practices, so do the folk at the coalface.

Investing In Future Recruits

Automation within mining is going to be huge, and shareholders and CEOs can often be seen to be jumping on the bandwagon in regards to these innovative possibilities, before really taking into account other factors. Whilst their enthusiasm is great, Zane feels that such a frantic leap could leave a wake of destruction behind it. What should really be encouraged, is the creation of pathways that will move people forward.  “I think the opportunity is how do you create this great pool where people feel like ‘I have a great idea’ and they can come in and actually make it happen?” Zane recognises that encouraging the development of core skills and providing courses that build skills for jobs, particularly within geology and technical engineering will help meet this aim.

In order to adapt to any future changes effectively, there needs to be a rally of knowledgeable people at the helm. Ever the optimist, Zane feels it’s an easily achievable reality, you just need to be looking to the next generation of recruits and entrepreneurs. It’s about creating opportunities and providing resources that will guide, educate and encourage these newcomers towards innovative solutions for the future.

As with all kinds of changes in business, there need to be systems in place to ensure that people are both educated well on the proper processes, and have the capacity to take advantage of the potential career opportunities that will ultimately benefit your business.

Listen to the full conversation here.