Making Way For Technology: What’s Driving The Future of Mining, Energy and Infrastructure Sectors

The pressure to deliver sustainable resource sector outcomes has never been greater. Because delivering results with the lowest social cost and environmental impact is no easy task, most leading companies realise technology is the way forward.

Sector sustainability has many faces, ranging from emission of pollutants and consumable disposal, to preservation of natural resources. Driving this irreversible trend is a broad range of global complexities, and the competing realities of industry change.

The One Trillion Dollar Question

It’s been reported that the gradual savings to the economy from technology-driven changes by 2035 could amount to between $900 billion and $1.6 trillion. A combination of energy demand reduction, resource substitution, and increased productivity by resource producers will dictate where this figure ultimately lands.

These figures consider the opportunities to reduce spending on resources and reallocate the savings to more productive parts of the economy.

The emerging trends to watch for.

Technological advances are undoubtedly changing the way resources are consumed and produced. Much of it is centred around the need to improve the health and safety environment for resource industry workers, reduce operating and upfront capital costs.

More crucially, change is accelerating because innovations in a variety of spheres have allowed for cost-effective mining and energy applications that are revolutionising traditional methods. Just some of these advancements include geographic information systems (GISs), artificial intelligence, cheap sensors, 5G wireless, and big data processing.

Renewable Energies

On its way to becoming the cheapest form of power, renewable energy usage has gained widespread popularity and been rising rapidly as costs have fallen. Since 2001, total solar generation worldwide has grown by 50 percent annually, while wind power generation has been growing at an annual rate of 24 percent.

Renewable energies are proving to be competitive without subsidies in a number of locations. The speed with which they substitute for some fossil fuels will depend on their ability to overcome obstacles including integration, scaling, and storage issues.

Beyond renewable energies, the backdrop for much of the evolving technological shift is set out by the following drivers:

  • Greater Fuel Economies; telematics of travel patterns.
  • Electrical Office Sensors; optimisation of heat and light based on usage, weather, and occupancy data.
  • Industrial Site Efficiency; sensors, analytics, and automation - boosts productivity and safety.
  • Smart Utilities; communication with users and devices to alert optimisation opportunities such as retrofits and or appliance upgrades.
  • Autonomous Ride Sharing; - residential pick-up optimising routes and carpooling commuters reducing vehicle numbers on the road.
  • Electric Vehicles Sales; replacing new car sales due to lower cost of ownership.
  • Automation, Robotics, and Remote Operation; the use of robots in critical activities, and remote operation centers (ROC) is improving safety, reducing the number of operators required in hazardous sites.

The Challenges For Technology Advancements; Capturing Opportunity.

With change comes teething problems and responsibility in developing a more active approach to strategy and growth. To prosper in a future with greater uncertainty and fewer sources of growth, resource producers will need to think of themselves more like agile portfolio managers.

By successfully integrating technologies, resource producers can build a more comprehensive understanding of their resource base, focusing on productivity to create value. This leads to optimisation of materials and equipment flow, improving anticipation of failures, increased safety, and real-time performance management.

On the surface, barriers to technology adoption appear physical, financial, and legal, however they can also be cultural. Companies will need to address their own willingness to embrace change, including restructuring their organisation and providing incentives to maximise adoption.

Safeguarding your workforce.

While there are clear long-term benefits from disruptive technologies substituting for manual tasks, a major risk is the potential displacement of workers. Most at risk are low- to medium skilled jobs, where tasks are manual, repetitive and predictable.

Adequately preparing workforces for the inevitable creation of new jobs calls for skills adaptation, retraining, and the upskilling of labour. These roles are anticipated to be for mid-highly skilled labour, performing tasks that require critical thinking. Labour market dynamics will undoubtedly shift across resourcing, and those with access to specialist talent will be best placed to meet this new demand.

Sourcing and assigning resourcing industry professionals into specialist roles, we elevate existing capabilities to help you deliver projects safely, on time and on budget.

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