Much like their natural world namesakes, industry ecosystems are dynamic, diverse and complex. Different organisations interact and depend upon each other for mutual survival. To formulate effective strategy, business leaders must have a strong grasp of their industry ecosystem and the fundamental forces for change that threaten to disrupt established norms.
State of Play will be releasing our State of Play: Ecosystem report in a serialised format over the coming months, of which this is the first instalment. The full report is also available for download from stateofplay.org.
The State of Play: Ecosystem report is an insight into some of the biggest and most unpredictable forces that face the mining industry. Through extensive interviews and surveys, we can paint a picture of how senior executives view the ecosystem within which they operate. What they see is rapidly changing; from the space industry using advanced remote operations technology to fuel the next boom in space, to the fundamental disruption of services companies by ambitious start-ups, backed by billions of dollars in venture capital. Through shortened and more interconnected value chains and increasing transparency, the mining industry has been thrust into the ethical supply spotlight. New technology is improving mining operating models, especially as work disperses to low-cost or high-capability clusters yet this very same technology threatens local community acceptance of operational footprint.
Social perceptions of mining matter more than ever before. The perception of mining in many sections of society is concerningly negative; which is manifests in tangible financial, regulatory and workforce challenges. In an industry that has made exceptional advances in health and safety, mental health remains an unresolved challenge for the industry.
In part as a response to social concern, as well electrification technology, extraction methods, new business models and the increasingly challenging nature of extracting new orebodies, new low-footprint mining technology is promising to challenge established mining methods. Recycling could fundamentally transform the demand profile of many minerals, from iron ore to lithium. Water shortages is driving innovation in operating models, whereas rehabilitation requirements is driving interesting new business models.
Governments are taking an interest as well. Mining remains a critical industry for national security, infrastructure, and local industries. Mining is caught up in geopolitics which adds strategic complexity. Minerals driven by new technology developments, in particular rare earths and battery related minerals, attract political attention, which adds to the risk and potential return for businesses operating in these commodities. Given the innovation in exploration technology and associated artificial intelligence, data is more valuable than ever before. Data collected by governments is therefore highly valued politically, impacting the mechanisms of exploration in different regions. Each region also faces unique innovation challenges which challenges international businesses to adapt to different requirements globally.
Ultimately, the mining ecosystem is far too complex to capture in one report. Instead, this report highlights some of the major thermals of change, each as unpredictable as the next. The industry is a fundamental component of the world economy, interacting with other ecosystems in a dynamic, globalised web of economic activity. While it is set to experience significant disruption over the coming decades, its role in human development and prosperity ensures it will remain one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystems in the global economy.
We hope you enjoy it.
The State of Play Team
As this covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve and businesses respond to the dynamic environment, we at State of Play want to provide as much valuable data back to the industry as possible to help guide the response. We are now launching our Week 6/7 survey, with some different questions and some that remain constant to track change over time. Even if you completed the survey previously, please complete it again here and share.
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