Canadian mining and metals sector faces a looming digital disconnect

(Calgary, 8 May 2017) There’s a gap between the productivity potential from digital transformation and the poor track record of implementation in the mining sector, according to a new EY report, The digital disconnect: problem or pathway.

“Leading mining and metals companies are starting to look more strategically at the digital opportunity,” says Iain Thompson, EY BC Mining & Metals Advisory Services Leader. “There are big opportunities around digitization and automation in field operations. By increasing efficiencies through things like artificial intelligence for exploration, automated mining trucks or advanced simulation and optimization tools, operators can address productivity and cost challenges.”

Of 700 respondents from the mining sector, EY’s survey finds only 31% say digital is high on their agenda; 15% say it isn’t on their agenda at all.EY says that despite a successful track record of new-technology implementation, including plant control systems, GPS technologies, automated haulage and data storage, there are challenges with mining companies adopting the technologies.

“Companies are hesitant when it comes to making digital investments,” says Thompson. “While concerns around everything from perception to implementation are real, the key is to have a clear vision for what a digital future might look like. With that vision, companies can better address their top operational risk: productivity.”

Some key takeaways from the report are:

  • 15% of survey respondents say digital isn’t on the agenda in their organization
  • Digital is a key enabler to achieving the next level of productivity improvement
  • Companies must apply the same rigor to digital transformation that they would any other change program

Thompson says, “By identifying areas for improvement and where past successes have been won, mining operators can make the jump to digitization, increase productivity and decrease costs. The bottom line is the mining sector needs to embrace the digital opportunity or risk falling behind the productivity curve.”

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