In many ways the mining industry is losing the public relations battle
against environmental activists. Many of the latter fail to distinguish
between the various types of commodities being mined, the processes
being used in extraction and the usefulness of the resource in
helping, or hindering, action against climate change.
MELBOURNE, Oct 31 (Reuters) – The mining industry wants to shed its image as a low-tech shoveller of dirt and instead be seen as a cutting edge digital-savvy employer of choice. It’s a feat that could be compared to teaching an elephant to ballet dance.
While mining companies have been quick to adopt new technologies to drive costs lower, there is an increasing recognition that the industry needs to embrace the so-called digital revolution if it is to prosper in the future.
This means moving well beyond the driverless trains and trucks that have helped Australia’s major iron ore miners cut the cost of producing a tonne of the steel-making material by about two-thirds over the past decade.
Harnessing technology, and the people to use it, was an over-arching theme at this week’s International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC). But there was also tacit recognition that the industry is a long way from being attractive to the type of workers it will need if it is to harness the advantages of digital technologies.
One speaker at the event related the story of a mining executive addressing students studying technology degrees at a university. When asked for a show of hands of who wanted to work in a high-tech industry committed to innovation and providing the materials needed for an electrified and de-carbonised economy, virtually every hand went up.