Inherent in the drive for digitisation in the global mining industry is a clear skillset gap. While the proliferation of data science capability continues to grow in the global economy, a shortfall in digital skills still permeates across the industry from miners to services companies.
To some extent, digital skills shortfalls are generational and students entering the mining industry often bring with them an easy familiarity with intuitive digital technology and apply it to solve complex challenges. However, there is a limit to which digital familiarity transfers to data science and there still remains a gap between capability and applicable insight in a complex, technical industry such as mining. Therefore, more training is required, both at a university and industry level to connect domain expertise with leading data science.
Critical to the success of capability development programs is the development of environments to pilot new capabilities. While there are significant similarities between more digitally advanced industries such as defence or telecommunications and mining, the unique operating context of mining limits the application of these capabilities.
“If mining companies don’t adopt an increasingly aggressive approach to technology, every year they wait they will fall behind, and in 15 years’ time they won’t survive”
Already, collaborative alliances between non-competing industry players are developing to accelerate investment and skills development in digital technology. Alliances such as Innovation Central Perth, a $30m initiative led by Cisco in partnership with Woodside Energy, Curtin University and Data 61, are recognising a joint need for testing new digital capabilities and developing skills amongst Western Australian students and industry practitioners using the university campus as a safe and low cost testbed with easy access to students and researchers.
Western Australia is a natural choice for digital innovation. It is already home to the largest Internet of Things device, the Square Kilometre Array project, which presents several challenges regarding data collection, correlation, compression, analysis, transport, storage and distributions. The project also is leading to development of new patterning and anomaly detection algorithms. These skills and capabilities can therefore be applied to unique challenges relating to remote operations and automation in the mining industry, leading to the development of world-class digital skills and tangible digital solutions in predictive maintenance, underground connectivity, drone inspections and operational energy efficiency.
“The primary objective is to develop digital skills across the state to further empower economic growth”
This post builds on themes discussed in the 2019 State of Play Report Series.
ABOUT THE REPORTS
State of Play’s 2019 reports are based on the largest survey in the global mining industry, surveying over 800 global mining professionals, the majority of which work at an executive level across 399 companies.
Two of three reports entitled Delivery and Strategy have been released by State of Play in an ongoing 2019 series on innovation and strategy in the global mining industry. The third report, Ecosystems, will be released later this year.
The reports are the result of a partnership with Curtin University, METS Ignited, and The University of Western Australia.
State of Play reports are available from: www.stateofplay.org/results