Friday, 5 June 2020
IMARC 2018 Insights: 3 Key Themes
Austmine Limited
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IMARC 2018 Insights: 3 Key Themes

Austmine is a founding partner of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) and we were proud to yet again participate in the annual event which recently took place from 29 October – 1 November in Melbourne.

Since the inaugural IMARC in 2014, we have seen the event continue to grow each year and is now Australia’s largest mining industry conference for attracting investors, international delegates, technology companies, mining leaders and government officials. Austmine was pleased to see the outstanding level of speakers at IMARC and the participation of the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM).

Throughout the three days of conference sessions and thought-provoking discussions, common themes and challenges were identified as the drivers of strategic decisions and priorities by the heads of mining companies around the world. These themes are explored in further detail below.

1.     Sustainability

For the mining industry to continue to receive licence to operate, we must change the way we do business and ensure sustainability is a top priority.   

Discussion in the opening plenary session centred on creating sustainable operations through engaging with the community. Statements from mining leaders were echoed by their peers about creating a new method of community consultation, which emphasises early engagement with local stakeholders, asking questions about what the community want from mining operations, operating with greater transparency and ensuring vibrant and strong communities long after the operation has closed.

Sustainability discussions also addressed the elephant in the room, the growing global threat of climate change and the impact of mining on this phenomenon. The ICMM, led by 27 leaders of global mining companies, has set ambitious targets for reducing the use of fossil fuels and changing the energy mix to a focus on renewables. A great example of this in action is Goldcorp’s Borden underground gold mine in Ontario, Canada. This will be the world’s first all-electric mine and their partnership with Sandvik has already achieved key milestones at the site. Not only will this reduce greenhouse gases, but it can save Goldcorp about $9million annually in diesel expenses, create a safer underground environment without exhaust fumes and reduce the need for energy intense ventilation systems.

 As identified throughout the 3 days, new technology will be critical to achieving sustainability targets and Australian METS are leading the way in this approach.

2.     Mining Needs a New Narrative

In his opening plenary address, Jean-Sebastian Jacques, Chief Executive at Rio Tinto made the comment that we must change the BBQ conversation.

Mining is too often viewed as a destructive industry rather than recognised for the valuable economic and social contribution it makes to our everyday lives. It is time for mining to stand up and tell the story of the positive contribution the sector makes on development, including the alleviation of poverty, necessity of minerals and employment contribution. The ICMM are currently initiating a call to action for the sector as they attempt to tell this story and do so through a different lens, changing the language being used, utilising social media and creating a new culture.

Austmine also ran an interesting discussion session on the final day of IMARC, where participants explored the role of the Mining Equipment, Technology and Services sector in creating our new narrative. This session sought to brainstorm ideas and methodologies for demonstrating the sophistication of our sector and advanced technologies in deployment, ultimately aiming to create a more attractive picture of the METS sector for the next generation. A number of interesting ideas came up during this conversation, including the need to tell emotive stories rather than promote facts in the modern media landscape. Austmine will continue these conversations and we encourage our members to provide feedback.

3.     The Digital Age is Here

From the inaugural IMARC it has been interesting to see the shift in exhibitors on show, moving from components and equipment a few years ago to now being a showcase for mining software, virtual reality and simulation, sensors and data, and advanced technologies like drones and electric vehicles.

Jean-Sebastian Jacques also expressed in his plenary speech that ‘Digital will be a game changer,’ and pointed towards technologies like 3D printing that will enable components to be manufactured on site, digital twins to identify and predict operational issues before they arise and blockchain for faster marketing and trading of commodities. From the case studies presented and stories told throughout the conference, this digital transformation is well underway.

To be involved in further discussions about mining innovation, ensure you’re there for the Austmine 2019 Conference & Exhibition, taking place from 22 – 23 May in Brisbane. At this event we will explore ‘Mining Innovation – The Next Horizon,’ looking at the impact of intelligent equipment, mine site connectivity, data and analytics and small footprint methodologies.

Congratulations to the IMARC team on making this year’s conference the best yet. We look forward to what’s in store for the 2019 edition.

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