Data, in all its potential, is one resource that the mining sector has not fully leveraged thus far. Amid inflationary pressures, volatile commodity prices, and not to mention the race toward net-zero by 2050, optimising how mining companies use their data would set the pace of progress for achieving efficient and sustainable operations.
Australia's mining sector amounts to 75% of the country’s exports and is a pillar of the Australian economy. The country is also one of the world's largest exporters of coal, iron ore, and many other resources. However, Australian mining companies have revealed that production costs have been soaring due to inflationary pressures and increasing commodity prices.
Further, mining companies have been experiencing a drop in productivity due to a labour shortage, resulting in production delays. While this has been affecting shareholders' confidence, ongoing recession fears present an opportunity for mining companies to attract investors who are looking for buying opportunities.
While mining companies are unable to control the volatility of commodity prices, they can control the way they operate. This begs the question – how can mining companies proactively optimise their operations to achieve sustainable profits amid industry challenges and gain increased shareholder support?
Mining the truth of digital transformation
Digital transformation is accelerating across the mining sector, and companies have an unprecedented opportunity to capitalise on this momentum. Still, implementing new technologies can be a slow process - in fact the mining sector is deemed 30% to 40% less mature digitally than similar sectors.
This is because traditional IT infrastructures used by mining companies often lack the ability to interoperate with efficiency-increasing capabilities like remote operations, autonomous haulage, sustainable locomotion and supply chain automation. Mining companies would need to leverage new technologies like the cloud to drive these capabilities, but even so, the cloud comes with its own challenges – such as the sheer volume of information that is accessible on the cloud environment.
Understanding the need for event-driven thinking
As such, strategic digital transformation is heavily reliant on the integration of systems and applications across the organisation. This is where event-driven architecture (EDA) comes into play. EDA is a software architecture that views all happenings within the organisation as ‘events’ – business activities that are triggered by software systems, devices, human actions, or even nature. These events are decoupled from the systems to be processed, which allows them to be harnessed in real-time – providing companies with immediate insights and the ability to act on them almost instantaneously.
Examples of events include notifications on any damage on mining machinery to avoid loss of productivity,, or the avoidance of an environmental disaster because a digital sensor alerted an emergency team to intervene in time. The mining business is essentially a whole chain of events; identifying, linking, and acting on events in real-time can be a surefire way to improve operational efficiency and optimisation, which in turn drives production volume and lower unit cost.
Innovative mining companies will take one step further and deploy an event mesh, an architectural layer that enables events across the organisation to be distributed in real-time, no matter when the activity occurs, empowering mining companies with the agility to make informed operational decisions that impacts production up-time.
Further, being event-driven offers mining companies the real-time operational visibility they need to take those first key steps towards decarbonisation with the ultimate goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
The future of mining is event-driven
Amid inflationary pressures and rising commodity prices, mining companies would have to go beyond traditional cost-cutting measures to combat spiraling production costs. Adopting an event-driven approach will allow mining companies to reclaim operational efficiencies. Those who are able to leverage event capabilities will be able to bring down production costs in a sustainable way, drive shareholder confidence and deliver bottom line growth.