The Mining Innovation – State of Play was initiated three years ago by VCI in partnership with the University of Western Australia. The ambition was to create a ‘think tank’ type platform to support industry discussion on how it is performing in terms of innovation at a strategic level, what needs to change in the industry ‘ecosystem’, and how businesses may more effectively develop their strategy and architecture to innovate for competitive advantage.
The drivers for this ambition were straightforward. The industry recognises itself as being conservative with respect to innovation and it knows the business and community endowment dividend from getting better at innovation is large; however, much of the material that seeks to provide insight on innovation tends to be drawn from industries that do not have the same high capital, long life cycle and market uncertainty characteristics as that faced by mining. Material that does focus on mining innovation is orientated towards technical innovation, not innovation strategy. There exists a significant knowledge gap, and filling it is valuable to both mining businesses and communities.
The 2014 Mining Innovation State of Play report (Stanway, Griebel and Mahoney, 2014), based on a survey of over 230 mining executives, uncovered a range of insights but left several questions unresolved. The people with the best perspective on these questions are CEOs. They can see the business issues with sufficient clarity and have the influence to shape both the industry and its organisations, as seen in Figure 1. Discussing these questions with the view to progressing our collective understanding was the primary reason this interview series was conducted.
Unsurprisingly, interviewing 15 CEOs and Chairpersons from different industries and commodities, across the globe resulted in a broad range of views. The discussions were frank and often blunt in assessing the short comings in the industry and suggestions for improvement. This degree of candour is hugely valuable as a basis for improvement. In the end, four key areas emerged as a basis for improvement.
Stanway, G, Griebel, C and Mahoney, P, 2017. Mining Innovation State of PlayTM – iron ore insights, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 439–442 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).