Interview with Tom Quinn, Head of Content, Mining Indaba

Optimising growth and investment in the digitised mining economy

Tom Quinn, Head of Content, Mining Indaba

The theme for 2020 Mining Indaba is ‘optimising growth and investment in the digitised mining economy’, can you explain why this was decided?

Digitisation has gone from concept to reality and is now a way of life in a global context. From the perspective of business, we are increasingly engaging with digitised, automated and even AI systems whether it be through operations, supply chains or the financial ecosystem that underpins the way in which we do business. The whole concept of the fourth industrial revolution is now becoming more mainstream and we can see this in our industry from automated mines, blockchain incubators securing the transparency of mined materials, safety technologies to reduce accidents, and our ongoing interaction with data in order to grow mining in a more efficient and sustainable way.

Last February’s Mining Indaba focused on sustainability which is now in the DNA of most mining operations globally. In a similar way, digitisation is not just a technology issue, it has challenges and opportunities throughout the natural resources value chain and that is why it’s such an important focus for us in this edition.

What discussions will be taking place at Mining Indaba that tackle the theme?

As we always strive to do at Mining Indaba, we’re offering a range of content formats and topics which will resonate with multiple stakeholders along the mining and natural resources value chain. The issue of digitisation and harnessing new technologies will be included in many sessions from the main plenary stage, the Sustainable Development day, and Junior Mining Showcase – to our Young Leaders programme and, of course, our extended Mining 2050 platform.

Sessions which will explore, and platform issues connected to mining’s fourth industrial revolution include: The Brand of Mining, Mining and the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, winning back the millennial generation: How should mining companies position themselves to attract millennial investors? Mining in South Africa and the YES Initiative looking at digital career paths, and Preparing for the fourth industrial revolution: How can African mining position itself for growth and avoid the shocks of potential automation?

With digitisation bringing more than $425 billion of value for the mining industry, it’s clear to see that opportunities are lucrative and vital not to be left behind, how is the content at Mining Indaba highlighting this across the three days?

As that figure suggests, the potential investment opportunities in digital optimisation for the mining industry are enormous. Given the fundamental goal of Mining Indaba to platform debate at the forefront of industry challenges and opportunities we have listened to our audience and we are delighted to announce the expansion of our Mining 2050 tech-focused content offering over two days. Leading innovators, tech experts and pioneering start-ups will share knowledge and showcase solutions to drive the future of mining. Topic areas will include the digitised supply chain, blockchain applications to resource transparency, automation and robotics in HSE, IIoT and digital twinning to solve complex mining problems. We are excited to innovate our Mining Indaba content to help upskill our executive delegates and engage mining’s leaders of tomorrow.

Researchers predict that harnessing the value of digitalisation can generate a potential economic impact, what can governments do to support digitalisation?

The whole digital ecosystem in the context of Africa presents an incredible generational opportunity. Moving into the digital economy has the potential to accelerate solutions to combat poverty, unemployment and inequality, and at Mining Indaba we want to be part of the initiatives which have these goals in mind. The African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 is a blueprint to support the continent’s accelerated growth, tech transformation, and to drive the benefits of a digitised economy. So, with policy and government support and local economy encouragement can all help make this a reality in Africa’s mining communities.

The AU agenda is aligned to South Africa’s own National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 vision of transforming the country into an inclusive and innovative digital society. With Mining Indaba’s ability to attract over 25 pan-African government ministers and its global status as the world’s largest mining investment platform, we are in a unique position to help highlight synergies between government policy and investment, and industry innovation to push Africa’s mining industry to the forefront of digital and economic growth.


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