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Mineral resource sector excellence – Are we there yet?

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Future, Management, Media, Mining, Publications


Last November, we published a Strictly Boardroom article on mineral sector excellence. It was based on a panel discussion held at ‘Breakfast by the Bay’ hosted by UWA Business School. The panel consisted of financier and director, Michael Anderson (Taurus Funds and Hot Chili), mining geologist, engineer and director, Alex Atkins (AusIMM and Alex Atkins & Associates), Vice-President of Geoscience at BHP, Jill Terry, and social development specialist, Liz Wall (Shared Resources).*

The panel were asked to comment on two questions:

1. Could you suggest some examples of excellence in the minerals sector where the value originates more from capability rather than directly from the quality of mineral assets?

2. Can you suggest some key focus areas where the industry needs to strive to improve its capabilities?

The idea was to get under the skin of professionalism in the minerals industry, and what we professionals add, beyond the latent quality of the resource we’re working on.

To everyone’s relief the panel was able to identify some previous and current sources of excellence in the minerals industry, including, in no particular order:

  • WMC Resources’ geology and exploration capabilities, and enduring legacy;
  • Multidisciplinary work in geometallurgy, particularly at Olympic Dam;
  • Business model innovation by Glencore combining mining and trading;
  • Business model innovation by Franco-Nevada with the royalties business model;
  • Big data leaders such as Petra Data Science, and;
  • A broad range of ‘independent’ experts across the industry, which keep it on its toes.

Alas, the list of areas for improvement was much longer, again, in no particular order:

  • Corporate citizenship, environmental management, and corporate social responsibility;
  • Intra- and inter-company collaboration;
  • Greater employee diversification and inclusion;
  • Embracing the digital era;
  • Incorporating external stakeholders and expertise into the core of the industry;
  • Better stewardship of resources over the life of the mine;
  • Inter-generational skills transfer;
  • Improvements of professional standards and more training;
  • Reducing mining’s environmental footprint, radically;
  • Taking ownership of mine closure management, and;
  • Converting mineral wealth into sustainable economic development in poorer countries.

What did the panel miss? Please feel free to add your ideas in the comments section.

The original article is available to subscribers of entitled “Mineral resource sector excellence – Are we there yet?” or contact me.

For keen followers of the Strictly Boardroom column, our book “Strictly (Mining) Boardroom Volume II: A Practitioners Guide for Next Generation Directors” was published last year and is available as a paperback or e-book from Major Street Publishing or Amazon. We’re pleased to say that the book received a very positive review in the AusIMM Bulletin and in Geoscientist magazine – the member’s publication of the Geological Society of London.

* We’d also like to note the efforts of Giles Potter (former UWA MBA student) in writing up the article, along with Anneke Forster and Marie-Claire Bennetts at UWA who organised the event.