A.I. LAMB at the 2023 World Mining Congress

Surprisingly since it's inception in 1958 the World Mining Congress 2023 has not been hosted in Australia. Taking the long way down it has been held in Lima, Bucharest, Cracow, Teheran, Stockholm and many other places but not in the 'home of mining'. We were glad it finally came to Oz and where else but the mining expo capital Brisbane.

An action packed three days, where the A.I. LAMB was represented by one of our Partners, Mirza Kozarcanin.

What did we hear and see?

An exceptionally well attended congress with the 'who's who' of mining represented. Many relevant talks and presentations as well as a packed exhibition floor.

Is BHP strategically placed over Rio or is it an illusion?

Let's start with what was on display and then move to the key notes.

All of the major miners were present, all of the ones with significant presence in Australia anyway. On display we saw a combination of key assets, exploration sites but almost all with a focus on how they integrated and support the move to a more renewable future.

A theme that we saw throughout the congress, something we expect to form part of most expos and congresses over the coming couple decades.

And then, a lot of cool and useful tech on display. Cool as most of it is both using the latest builds, tools and platforms but more important is the useful parts. Useful for surveying, useful for training, useful for risk mitigation and useful for getting people out of harms way.

The evolution is pretty amazing. A mining related event 10 years ago would have consisted of very traditional mining tech and a small presence of 'outside tech' trying to find a way in to mining. What was on display at the WMC was almost all designed for mining within the mining space.

As in companies that have taken the time and care to properly understand the mining environment and then build tech to help drive it forward. From digital work orders to industrial automation to mineral exploration, almost everything (or maybe better put everything that caught our eye) had seriously spent the time and effort being tested in the mining space. Which in our way is the way to approach validation, proper validation.

Removing as many assumptions when crossing over from one industry to another is essential. Mining being a high risk and high safety environment requires a great understanding of the environment, not simplifications or worse flawed assumptions.

What were the key notes saying?

A lot of what we would expect at a serious congress as this one; sustainability, inclusion, cooperation and innovation. Many different ways the topics were introduced and discussed but what was clear is the combination of excitement for the future (being part of a renewable ecosystem) and the uncertainty that still very much underpins many of the assumptions.

Sanjeev Gandhi, MD and CEO Orica

The excitement itself is a combination of personal excitement, CEOs and leaders getting to play an important part of the transition to a greener world (a few examples of how their kids see them were mentioned) and professional excitement to be part of something that none of us have been part of on this scale.

The uncertainty though is multilayered. On the investment side, from company, to government to industry, there is still a lot that is not clearly understood. A few comments were made around both the scale of the investments required and the timeframe these investments are based on, years and decades.

As noted by BHP's Mike Henry,

"Capital is global. It will flow to where the risk/returns ratio is most attractive."

The major miners are not only having to search the world for the right assets but have to also consider the investment profile, not a simple invest to return profile anymore but also the impact to the overall portfolio and the technologies being backed today (might not be so tomorrow), the government incentives (or lack of) and the social licence to operate.

Staying with Mike Henry, he made probably the most quoted statement of mining requiring

"...a massive wave of capital investment – perhaps an additional US$100 billion per year in capital investment".

The investments will come but picking the winners is not as obvious as it one would think.

The green and gold!

What technologies will be the winners?

Clearly if you are in the electrification, decarbonisation and automation space with a focus in mining you are seeing both an increase in orders and interest for your tech. As with the recent digitisation wave it is clear to see that many of the individual providers will need to move from a 'closed' environment (i.e. lack of open APIs and integration paths) to a much more integrated approach. Gone are the days when a mining operator was happy to have your tech installed on its own platform, no integration and only you being able to service it.

Mining operators and mining services operators employ today a range of skilled people that know not only what questions to ask but also how to 'dig deeper' (pun intended).

If you are a tech supplier looking to make mining your thing, spend the time and effort to understand the space before deploying anything. And once deployed, listen and be open to feedback.

A great few days at the WMC, we hope it comes back soon or at least doesn't wait another 60 or so years before coming Downunder!

A.I. LAMB is a consulting and technology provider backed by decades of experience taking innovative solutions to markets across the Logistics Mining and Agriculture Businesses (LAMB) we apply our own IP and innovations around industrial technologies that exist in other markets and adapt them to meet the needs of local customers.

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