Defining and understanding complexity

Defining and understanding complexity as it applies to the entire mining life cycle

24 September 2018

John Steen, a keynote speaker, shares his thoughts on the two levels of discussions the mining industry needs to think about:

He is Associate Professor in Strategy at the University of Queensland Business School in Brisbane and Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Business and Economics. He is currently leading major international research studies about innovation and sustainable development in the resources sector and in developing economies.

1. How important is the discussion around complex orebodies for the mining industry?

I think there are two levels of discussion that the industry needs to think about.
• The first of these is technical approaches to complex orebodies and what types of skills and technologies we will need to mine in more challenging operating environments.
• The second is what this means for competition and the structure of the industry. I think we are doing a good job with advancing the technological discussion but considerations about what this means for the strategy of mining companies and their relations with industry stakeholders is lagging a bit.

2. What will your keynote presentation cover?

Many industries have undergone a major transition when the basis for competitive advantage changes. If we consider a future where the basis of advantage isn’t low-cost mining reserves and the difference between highest and lowest cost quartile reserves is small, what does that mean for competitive advantage. I’m arguing that this will be the trigger for profound changes in the industry, where we will see new business models for mining.

3. What approaches or technology are you looking forward to hearing about at the conference?

I am very interested in new approaches to integrating the mining value chain. We know that productivity losses occur when functions like drilling and blasting, load and haul and processing aren’t coordinated. With new approaches to modelling processes and managing data, we should be seeing advances in the mine to mill agenda.

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