Mining industry still struggles to make data-driven decisions — report

Seequent staff look at a 3D model. Credit: Seequent.

Bentley Subsurface company Seequent has revealed the findings of its latest Geoprofessionals Data Management Report, which looked at the trends, challenges, and opportunities in subsurface data. 

The report found that eight in 10 geoprofessionals in mining saw data management as of high or critical importance for their organisation, and said they spent 27% of their time on data – but a third of respondents said they lacked the information they needed to make crucial data-driven decisions.

More than 700 geoprofessionals across industries that work in the subsurface responded to the survey, including 296 mining professionals. Other respondents included those from the civil, energy, and environment sectors. The report is the only one of its kind.

Findings across mining and other industries included:

  • An increase since 2020 in the use of emerging technologies: 64% of geoprofessionals are using or considering the use of data science scripting, advance analytics, machine learning, or artificial intelligence, with 39% using or considering using more than one of these technologies.
  • Views on the future of data management:
    • AI and automation will reduce time spent on menial tasks and drive efficiency and accuracy.
    • Cloud adoption will enable real-time collaboration and synchronisation across platforms.
  • On average 22 people are interacting with their organisation’s subsurface data.
  • Despite the high number of people interacting with subsurface data, 65% of organisations do not have an established framework governing data collection, analysis, and safeguarding (the so-called data chain of custody framework).

In mining, 61% do not have a data management framework that is viewed as vital, with 53% of the respondents from mining planning to create one within the next three years. Only 26% said they were “very ready” to leverage the cloud, with security and cost cited as the main factors.

 “The insights we have gathered provide a fascinating picture of the data challenges facing the mining industry. Clearly, the industry needs to tackle its lack of data-driven decision-making to maximise performance,” Rob Ferguson, Seequent’s Segment Director, Exploration and Resource Management said in a media statement.

“There is some work to do to educate the mining industry about the cloud, as the cloud is a cost-effective and secure solution that can help mining organisations transform their data management and collaboration. The adoption of emerging technologies will also be really important for the future of the industry.’’

Field work was undertaken in May 2023, with a total of 704 responses. The highest response rate was from the Americas, and the mining industry made up 42% of respondents overall.

Read the full report here.