Reimagining mining

BY: Bander Awad Al Habshan, acting chief information officer at Ma’aden

With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, smart technologies are causing seismic shifts across industries and sectors. Many companies are creating value like never before, with the implementation of connected manufacturing systems that collect and analyse insights. The mining industry is no different.

However, mining productivity has been turbulent. Outlined in several international reports, mining productivity declined between 2004 and 2009, then was relatively flat until 2013. Although mining productivity is starting to improve, it is still 25 per cent lower than its peak in the mid-2000s.

To maintain the improving trajectory of productivity, innovation is essential. The industry is beginning to realise that there is no going back. Mining companies need to prioritise productivity and operational excellence and support the adoption of new technologies.

A digital revolution

The national Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector has been identified as one of the major enablers of Saudi Vision 2030. The strategic goals of the national ICT Strategy 2019-2023 include contributing SAR- 50bn ($13.33bn) to Saudi Arabia’s GDP over five years.

The first phase of the ICT strategy seeks to build the digital foundations for a connected and an innovative Saudi Arabia. Having the right digital ecosystem to facilitate growth is critical, especially for companies in the minerals sector, which are integral to the economic transformation of Saudi Arabia. This is why we are investing in and prioritising digital transformation to achieve sustainable growth and realise operational, capital and commercial excellence.

Cloud-led transformation

Ensuring that the proper foundational building blocks are in place is essential to achieve any digital vision. For Ma’aden, one of those blocks was to replace the on-premises data centers with a cloud deployment model that can meet our ever-increasing needs for scalability and integration.

The mining industry as a whole is moving towards operational integration, leading to workflows being redesigned. At Ma’aden, our systems were somehow siloed, with low interoperability. We have sought to standardise our systems with a cloud solution across the organisation to unify processes and enable further growth and integration.

Equipped with an increasingly secure and agile ICT infrastructure, we are able to deploy transformation programs across the entire organisation, contributing to increasing safety levels, productivity and efficiency.

Supply chain integration

Managing assets in a complex supply chain has been a hallmark of our industry. That said, there are inefficiencies to address.

With cloud deployment, we will also be able to create a real-time view of our projects and resources, which is imperative to optimise and extract the most value out of our operations. This is particularly significant for Ma’aden, considering the importance of our business model that spans not just mineral extraction, but the whole process right through to the final product.

Integrated data collection and machine learning capabilities will make a huge difference to our mine to market model. The insights that are extracted will be used to maximise the product output and maintain a more robust production planning process throughout the value chain. This will not just maximise production but also it will do so in a way that is sustainable for the environment and safer for our operating staff.

The only way is upwards

In the future, data flow integration will extend beyond a company’s own operations, to include their suppliers and partners. This will create an even deeper and more efficient value chain for all parties involved. The future of cloud technology will also support emerging innovations such as algorithmic-driven production, artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain, which will revolutionise the industry in inconceivable ways.

For Ma’aden, steady and sustainable progress is critical. We are committed to exploring and cultivating the wealth of mineral resources in Saudi Arabia and driving the growth of the industrial sector as part of Saudi Arabia Vision 2030. Becoming a data-driven organisation that is empowered by the cloud is integral to the future of our company.

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution gets underway, mining companies, in particular, should build their strategic roadmap prioritising continuous digitisation. Embracing the new era and adopting an innovation-centric approach will be paramount to remain relevant and maintain market position.

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Download our free report: THE FUTURE OF PROJECT DELIVERY: Technology trends shaping construction and engineering in the Middle East

With some $3.5tn of major projects planned across the Mena region, the pipeline of future projects is bigger than the $3.1tn combined value of all of the project contracts awarded in the region since 2004. So the potential for the region’s incredible growth story to continue is immense. However, unlocking that opportunity depends entirely on the ability of the region’s projects industry to deliver its digital transformation.

Learn more about this in our latest report including contributions from ADNOC Group, Miral, Ma’aden, Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA)), AECOM, just to name a few.

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With some $3.5tn of major projects planned across the Mena region, the pipeline of future projects is bigger than the $3.1tn combined value of all of the project contracts awarded in the region since 2004. So the potential for the region’s incredible growth story to continue is immense. However, unlocking that opportunity depends entirely on the ability of the region’s projects industry to deliver its digital transformation.

Learn more about this in our latest report including contributions from ADNOC Group, Miral, Ma’aden, Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA)), AECOM, just to name a few.

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