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08 April 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Valentino Ndaba
Andrew Lane
Mining the fourth industrial revolution way is the future says industry expert, Andrew Lane.

Innovation is imperative for the future of mining in South Africa. Industry expert, Andrew Lane proposes that leveraging on new information, mining technologies and energy knowhow, which are the hallmarks of the fourth industrial revolution, should set the scene for success.

Lane who is Africa Energy and Resource Leader at Deloitte, engaged students at a recent guest lecture hosted by the University of the Free State’s Business School on the Bloemfontein Campus. “The future is intelligent mining. It’s not just about technology; it’s about changing the way you do business,” he said.

Transforming traditional to trailblazing
“What gives you sustainable competitive advantage is the rate at which you innovate,” said Lane. Design paradigm shifts in the South African mining industry may have resulted in about 100 000 job losses during the past four years. However, mining companies stand to achieve significant gains through applying innovation.

Despite most of South Africa’s mines nearing the end of their lives, mining remains a large employer and investor attractor which ensures that the country holds a competitive advantage in the global economy. Lane is adamant that, “even though we have declined from 20% to 5% in terms of GDP contributions, mining remains a large contributor to export earnings”.

Reaching resource-rich regions
While some physical resources are inaccessible using current technology, “new mineral-processing technologies help tap into previously uneconomical mineral deposits”, according to Lane. In addition to the environment, 3D visualisation cameras can track employees and equipment in the bowels of the earth.

More mining, less loss
Integrating mining, energy, and information technology will ensure that companies reduce people, capital and energy intensity, while increasing mining intensity. The impossible can be achieved if technology is used well for developmental outcomes, employment, and improving standards of living.

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