Friday, 5 June 2020
GMG Future Mining Forum Presentation: Sharna Glover, Program Director Autonomous Mining, BHP
Austmine Limited
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GMG Future Mining Forum Presentation: Sharna Glover, Program Director Autonomous Mining, BHP

Austmine recently partnered with GMG, AusImm and METS Ignited for the Future Mining Forum in Brisbane from 21 – 22 August, 2018.

On day 2 of the conference we were delighted to be joined by Sharna Glover, Program Director Autonomous Mining at BHP for her presentation on ‘Global Technology – Creating Tomorrow’s Mine, Today.’ This looked at BHP’s technology strategy and vision for their future fully integrated and highly autonomous mining operations.

Sharna began with explaining the outlook for BHP and providing insights into their strategic approach to owning and operating large, long-life and low-cost assets diversified by commodity, geography and market. Overall, the future envisioned direction for BHP will allow them to control their own destiny, manage risks and scale their assets up, achieving their three key goals of improving their foundation, delivering benchmark projects and creating future options.

In terms of technological change, Sharna’s message was that BHP need to figure out how to be the Uber of picking up dirt. Technology will be the cornerstone of safety and productivity improvements and will create a ‘perfect storm’ for the mining industry, driven by the application of industry 4.0.

BHP envision an autonomous business from resource to market and will be key to unlocking resource potential and creating future options for the business. However, before realising this goal, Sharna outlined a range of issues that the mining industry must overcome with technological change.

Whilst significant improvements have been made, mining remains the second most dangerous industry globally. Meanwhile, productivity relative to competing industries has remained far behind, with industries such as agriculture and manufacturing far out-pacing mining.

Core to this issue for Sharna is mining’s ongoing problem of leaving technology as an organisational change project and forgetting to bring our people along on the journey. We fail at this transition because we focus on the technologists rather than the engineers and workers on site. Sharna believes that organisational change experts must be adopted at the beginning of the project to improve digital transformation results.

Sharna used the example of mobile phones to demonstrate mining’s relative stagnation for technological utilisation. They have enabled personal productivity in our private lives to significantly increase, but we are not on the right bandwagon in mining.

However, BHP are committed to this transformational journey and are investigating a range of ways to get more from their technology. At the fundamental level, they have identified benchmark projects that will drive leadership in safety and productivity, including initiatives around collision avoidance, equipment automation and systems integration across the value chain.

From these areas they have also aimed to create proving grounds to trial solutions and de-risk in real conditions, such as sensor technologies implemented at Escondida in Chile for the extraction process and the innovative heap leach project at their world-leading Olympic Dam site in South Australia.

Finally, they have identified three key areas for high value innovation that they will strive to accelerate: mine autonomy, decision automation and precision mining.

Sharna finished by looking at the external environment to create a clear picture of the value of automation and the amazing opportunities it creates for mining. There is estimated to be 1.2 billion motor vehicles worldwide, 88,000 mining trucks and other mobile equipment and over $80 billion in research for automation globally. This creates a stark picture against mining, where there is no significant venture capital or funding for automation and there is less than 1% of automated equipment in use.

This demonstrates the rapid change and exceptional opportunity that our industry is set to undertake in the coming years.

To view the slides from Sharna’s presentation log in to the member self-service portal.

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