Mining industry transformation: Agile mining operations of critical importance to mining success

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By Rachel K. Carson (MarCom for Process Industries)

Adapted from IDC Perspective: Mining Industry Transformation written by Emilie Ditton.

Change is something we are all accustomed to at some point in our lives. Whether this be major or minor difference, change impacts how we do daily activities and requires that we alter the way we do things to adequately meet the needs of the imposed change. The mining industry has begun a change; a true transformation. Commodity prices, increased willingness to embrace technology and process change, and the need to competitively differentiate is supporting the transformative momentum that is building. At its core the transformation is enabled by the creation of mining organizations built around agile mining operations. Operations that enable the utilization of data for decision making across processes, within processes, and across the enterprise continuously.

All mining processes and roles will be affected, but mostly the mine itself will experience the most change. The companies that choose to partake in the transformation will however see the most return in value results. As the intensity of technology increases and develops within mining operations, the value at stake for the industry will increase as well.

Why does this matter to my mining operation?

The mining industry has not undergone a dramatic change for many years in regard to fundamental operational and extraction technology. The following challenges are the driving factors for mining industry change:

  • Deeper ore
  • Lower ore grades
  • Ore that is difficult to mine
  • Increasing costs of compliance in many locations

Breaking down what may seem complex is rather quite simple. There is one easy fix to these situations and that is, data.

Why is utilizing collected data important for mining operations?

As described by CIO of a platinum mining company based in South Africa, “Digital Mining Transformation is all about one thing – data and what the data can do for your business. Everything else is about obtaining the data.” Data has an incredible role to play in enabling mining companies to manage variability and control their operations. This is not new news to the mining industry, however achieving a digital mining transformation is often seen as a looming burden upon mining companies. This is because achieving an effective transformation is much harder than it appears on the surface. For most companies there is a significant journey to go on; yet the value that can be gained and the transformation that it will drive for individual companies will be very apparent as they progress.

At its core, the transformation is the creation of mining organizations built around agile mining operations. These are operations that enable the utilization of data for decision-making across processes, within processes and at an enterprise level, with continuous flow of data and insight at all levels across the value mining chain.

What defines and makes up an Agile Mining Operation?

Agile Mining Operations are critical to organizational change and process re-engineering. The extracted value is generated by technology enablement to integrate the data and systems. Agile Mining Operations are a combination of four key elements:


-Process of collecting data across equipment, people, and within the mine to create the ability to utilize insight through automated or human response.

-Data is used across all areas of the mine to enable…

  1. The ability to understand what is happening
  2. Anticipate future events
  3. Embed those insights and feedback within processes that enable the business to respond.


              -Use of data to build a digital working model of physical products and processes.

-This is used for understanding, scenario modeling, and simulation to test scenarios for extreme efficiency or any other optimized outcome. (ex: safety)

-Control center is the core of the successful mining operation.

-Application of advanced analytics and collaboration are centralized here.


-Automation of equipment via robotics. (ex: trucks, trains, drills, etc.)

-Automation has the potential of increasing predictability.


-Ability to integrate the operation as a system from pit to port and from supplier to customer.

-Holistic strategy brings together the collection of data and responsive operations are hence created.

-These responsive operations help automate and create digital processes.

Ready to learn more about mining industry transformation & agile mining operations? Read the IDC perspective…

Recently Emilie Ditton, IDC, outlined the importance of mining industry transformation and agile mining operations within the IDC Perspective: Mining Industry Transformation. She explains how agile mining operations within a transformed mining operation can contribute towards increased value stakes due to better data collection for operational analysis and decision management. She also explains how digitizing your mine plays an important part in the overall industry transformation. Download now to learn more.

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