Unlocking success in Mining: Building capability to navigate challenges

Richard Horton, Partner at leading global management consultancy, Partners in Performance

As the mining industry hurtles towards the future, grappling with evolving workforce dynamics and persistent labour shortages, the imperative for mining organisations is clear: fortify capabilities to attract and retain talent, extract maximum value from exploration endeavours, and optimise the management of marginal assets. Those who heed this call will emerge from the next decade with a competitive edge and a firm foothold for sustained success.

How can mining stay competitive?

The coming decade presents a formidable array of challenges for mining companies.

Dwindling good deposits, declining ore grades, and increasingly stringent regulations are posing profitability challenges. Meanwhile, escalating demand for green metals is putting pressure on both the industry and regulatory bodies to expedite the development of new mines. Concurrently, the scarcity of skilled workers exacerbates operational hurdles, necessitating strategic agility and innovative solutions to maintain competitiveness and ensure longevity in the industry.

Our research, drawn from our work with global mining organisations, offers insight into the essential elements needed for success in the near future and the absolute must-haves needed to achieve lasting impact into the 2030s.Our insights, drawn from extensive collaboration with global mining entities, underscore the pivotal importance of three core capabilities for navigating the tumultuous terrain of the future.

  1. Maximising value from exploration

In an era characterised by scarcity and heightened demand, maximising the value extracted from exploration activities emerges as a linchpin of success. Despite advancements in technology, many exploration campaigns flounder, haemorrhaging resources without commensurate returns. To reverse this trend, mining leaders must adopt a multifaceted approach:

  • Enhance reserves through probabilistic scenario planning, meticulously gauging uncertainties to tailor exploration strategies and focus on high-value prospects

  • Accelerate conversion by leveraging historical data to refine target selection and expedite the transition from exploration to extraction.

  • Revamp Exploration Management Systems for heightened productivity, streamlining processes and harnessing cutting-edge technology to augment effectiveness.

By embracing these imperatives, mining organisations can substantially expedite the discovery of deposits, compressing timelines and unlocking untapped potential.

  1. Transforming marginal assets into robust businesses

As regulations tighten and fewer mines come online, maximising the output of existing assets, especially for eco-friendly metals, becomes imperative. Many miners grapple with the challenge of sustaining robust assets throughout commodity cycles. Efficiently managing current assets can yield quicker gains in the medium term compared to opening new mines. This involves optimising production processes, enhancing resource utilisation, and minimising losses wherever feasible, thereby fostering significant growth.

Taking a proactive stance toward making marginal assets profitable typically entails:

  • Assessing an asset’s present condition.

  • Establishing clear objectives and targets.

  • Actively striving to enhance asset performance.

Realising these objectives necessitates utilising data effectively to discern which strategies to employ. Implementing tools for real-time monitoring, measurement, and optimisation of asset performance is crucial. Data-driven insights ensure effective management of marginal assets and optimise their financial performance over the medium term, ultimately transforming them into long-term growth drivers.

Successful execution often involves:

Benchmarking: Comparing asset performance to identify areas for technological deployment and efforts aimed at increasing ore grade or enhancing asset performance.

Harnessing data analytics: Delving into asset performance and operations to gain competitive advantages, saving time and resources by pinpointing areas for enhancement.

  1. Securing talent for the long term

The mining industry faces a talent shortage, hindering production due to recruitment and retention challenges. With automation and digitisation reshaping mining, attracting and retaining skilled workers is vital.

To address this, we need to focus on:

  • Elevating talent on the executive agenda: Offer career growth, upskilling, and a compelling work culture to appeal to younger generations’ values beyond mere remuneration. Emphasise long-term planning for sustained talent pipelines.

  • Cultivating local relationships: Strengthen ties with communities to secure social licenses, understand local talent dynamics, and promote education and employment opportunities tailored to fill labour gaps.

  • Embracing diversity: Tap into overlooked talent pools by creating inclusive environments that support underrepresented demographics. Encouraging diversity fosters long-term industry commitment and cultivates a diverse workforce pipeline.

  • Proactive decarbonisation: Demonstrate shared values with prospective talent by implementing emissions reduction strategies and sustainability initiatives. Prioritise purpose-driven work environments to attract and retain motivated workers aligned with ESG goals.

As the mining industry faces evolving workforce dynamics and persistent labour shortages, it’s crucial that organisations fortify their capabilities. This involves attracting and retaining talent, maximising exploration value, and optimising marginal asset management. Those who prioritise these initiatives will gain a competitive edge and ensure long-term success.

By fortifying these three core capabilities, they can navigate the challenges ahead and emerge as leaders in the evolving mining landscape. It’s time for action to shape a prosperous future for the industry.

About us:

About Partners in Performance Partners in Performance is an agile, fast growing international management consultancy; a leading global player in driving operational excellence for complex organisations. By working as a true partner with clients, Partners in Performance enables lasting change in organisations, delivering both commercial impact and inspiring people to transform their behaviours.

/Public Release.