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How to shift SA mining to 4IR

JOHANNESBURG – TECHNOLOGY experts have urged players in South Africa’s mining sector to partner and collaborate and shift the industry into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This would enhance substantial progress in mining’s journey towards digital transformation in the last decade.

Industry delegates explored the role of collaboration in driving mining modernisation at the just-ended Huawei Mining Summit in Johannesburg.

“Innovation doesn’t happen in a siloed space,” said Royal Bafokeng Platinum Information Management Manager, Karina Geyser.

“It’s (innovation is) enabled by collaboration. It’s facilitated when people talk to one another and when they share ideas with one another.”

She said her company had built and strengthened partnerships with partners like Huawei to drive the digital strategy forward.

Jean-Jacques Verhaeghe, Mandela Mining Precinct Programme Manager, endorsed Geyser’s comments on partnership.

“With all these shiny new technologies available to us, it can be easy to lose focus on what is really important to a mining company when embarking on digitalization,” Verhaeghe said.

The official added, “Partners need to really look at what difference these technologies are going to make in moving crucial benchmarks forward.”

The Mandela Mining Precinct and Huawei have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that allows the Minerals Council South Africa, through the MMP and Huawei, to install and test Wi-Fi 6 kits in underground mines, in pursuit of a digitalised mining industry.

Planning is also underway that will enable research teams to define and test various scenarios at a suitable mine in South Africa.

Geyser also implored the mining sector to develop robust corporate level digital strategies to provide direction in their digital transformation journeys.

She noted that when plotting a digital strategy, companies needed to conduct effective analysis, understand their internal and external barriers, and lay out concrete steps for how to overcome them.

Gys Malan, Huawei Vertical Solution Manager, added that when integrating digital solutions into their business, the mining sector needed to be cognisant of fitting the right technologies to the right processes in order to make an impact.

“What businesses often do is find a solution that has been successful in a specific environment and try to apply it to all of their business requirements and then they find that they cannot achieve their business goals,” Malan said.

Mark Williams, Huawei 5G Marketing Manager, said data is the key to smart mining and ability to use and exploit data will be a key market differentiator.

“Mines already generate vast amounts of data, the challenge is that they don’t have access to it in real time,” Williams said.

– CAJ News

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