3 min read

The global quarrying and mining industries have a string of hurdles to overcome in today’s world. Their respective markets have become increasingly characterised by disruption from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The disruption and the pace of technological change is making it difficult for both industries to adapt.

Amid this era of disruption, this article is designed to assess the various risk factors facing mining and metals around the world.

The generational shift of employment

The day-to-day nature of work in the mining industry has been heavily impacted by automation and digitisation. As a result of this, the sector is having to face up to a shift in the types of roles available to professionals. Miners can no longer rely on specialising. They require broader capabilities. Employers will also need to acknowledge that the next generation of mining talent will have to be jacks of all trades.

Digitising supply chains

Both the quarrying and mining industries across the globe are in the infancy of developing a worldwide digital supply chain network. It is hoped that these new networks will do more than just track the movement of materials from pit to port. They will help to improve operational efficiencies and day-to-day productivity that genuinely transforms the bottom line of organisations.

The utilisation of artificial intelligence and real-time data

There are early signs that the mining industry, in particular, is investing in artificial intelligence (AI) to leverage real-time data to refine the decision-making processes throughout the end-to-end supply chain. Whether it’s improving the safety of miners, putting a much-needed ceiling on costs or growing productivity, mining firms are having to become increasingly sophisticated in their use of AI to ascertain the key areas to focus on investment and development.

Risk management in the digital age

The attitude of local communities, investors, and boards of directors is rapidly changing. Traditional assurances about risk management in the quarrying and mining sectors are no longer sufficient. Instead, organisations are required to utilise data analysis not just to mitigate existing risks to employees and the wider environment, but to get a handle on new, emerging risks to the industry too. Through real-time data analytics and cognitive tools, mining firms can now see the bigger picture.

In the UK alone, there are some 2,000 active mines and quarries, despite the long-term move towards more renewable energy sources. In the broadest sense, mining is necessary to obtain any material that cannot be grown agriculturally or artificially generated in a factory or science lab.

Whether it’s gravel, rock salt, potash or clay, the extraction of these materials is still vitally important to our national economy. Finding ways to utilise technologies to develop sustainable, eco-friendly business models for mining limited resources is key to safeguarding the long-term future of these industries.

R&D in the quarrying or mining sector

If your quarrying or mining business is undertaking research and development (R&D) projects to ascertain ways of improving your supply chain, minimising extraction waste or re-skilling employees, you could be eligible to claim for R&D tax relief.

In 2015/16, just 0.07% of all R&D tax credit claims were derived from the mining and quarrying sector.

The UK government has set aside millions of pounds to provide tax relief for R&D project costs, incentivising mining and quarrying organisations to look to the future and grasp the opportunities with both hands.