BHP Billiton CEO: Automation Could Save the Mining Sector Billions of Dollars
Mining companies are consistently under pressure from investors and shareholders to yield higher returns, meaning miners need to get the most out their equipment to help maintain margins, which are being squeezed by high labor and energy costs and decreasing commodity prices.
At an industry dinner in August, Andrew Mackenzie, the new CEO at BHP Billiton, spoke at length about the need for equipment efficiency across the sector. He likened the quest for efficiency to that of a Formula One Motor Racing Team and used an example of pit stops to highlight the importance of continuous improvement, no matter how small. Thanks to tiny changes, he said, the F1 pit stop has gone from just under four seconds in 2010 to just over two seconds in 2013.
“If we take that and apply it to our industry,” he continued. “The prize is significant. For us, every one percent of improvement in productivity translates to a $170 million saving.”
Many industry experts are only too aware that innovations from an equipment point of view are not going to be overly dramatic, however small improvements could have a significant impact on the industry. “You cannot really improve on the drilling itself,” said Ulrich Schoepf of the Deep Drilling Division at Bauer Maschien GmbH, and unit of Germany’s Bauer AG. “So we make the machines safer, which means less down time. We make them more fuel efficient and easier and cheaper to transport.”
During the discussion, many of the key industry players also stated that automation would continue to be a huge influencer when it comes to product development. It has been at the root of many dramatic improvements in mining productivity in recent decades and will continue to shave precious time off the mining process. Atlas Copco Chief Executive, Ronnie Leten went as far to say, “the whole battle will be in automation.”
Key Innovations in Industry
So what are some of the largest manufacturing companies doing to improve mining equipment? In May, Sandvik began field-testing a new generation of underground hard-rock mining trucks, which have an on board jacking system that allows flat tyres to be changed quickly and efficiently on location.
Germany’s Bauer is due to present a new generation deep drilling rig, which is reported to be able to drill down to 7,000 meters and will be ‘hands-free’. “We have easily 200 – 300 competitors in deep drilling,” conceded Schoepf, “but there are only two or three that have ‘hands-free’ technology.”
Rexroth, part of the Bosch Group, has developed hydraulic excavators, which offer substantial improvements in energy utilization and thus notable cost savings and Caterpillar has launched a new hybrid vehicle. Many of the industry’s key players are now focusing their R&D towards efficiency and productivity gains for customers. “You sell a solution that includes services with a focus on productivity,” said analyst David Jacobsson at Nordic Investment bank Pareto Securities.
“The big benefit here on the mining side is that productivity and what is costs is so extremely measurable. Manufacturers can say, ‘yes, our product is 30 percent more expensive, but since the downtime is much lower your investment will pay off’.”
When it comes to efficiency, machinery has a significant role to play; by minimizing downtime, deploying a higher level of automation, tracking operations, using driverless trucks and concentrating in equipment productivity, valuable time and money could be saved. Mining precision should be at the top of the agenda for mining executives now and in the future. Excellence is achieved by focusing on detail, just like with the Formula One pit stop, small savings could help dramatically improve the mining industry.
Net zero benefits the mining industry and the environment
How do we get the world to net-zero faster?
Emitwise’s founders, Mauro Cozzi, Eduardo Gómez and Ben Peddie, approached a network of more than 100 of the world's largest enterprises and asked their CEOs, CFOs, and sustainability managers the big question: How do we get the world to net-zero faster? The challenge many shared was the lack of timely and accurate emissions data to enable strategic decisions. Companies often relied on annual audits of their carbon footprint for carbon accounting purposes. However, static yearly results were outdated upon publishing.
Emitwise saves companies an average of 260 working days a year by automating their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions data. With the added benefits of clean audit trails and auto-populated accounting reports in line with GHG Protocol, all at the click of a button. Their easy to use solution enables businesses to quickly identify the carbon hotspots to target, and the precise real-time data empowers teams to remain agile and respond effectively, making achieving those goals possible.
Unique AI Technology
Emitwise’s unique AI technology empowers businesses to automatically measure, report and reduce their carbon footprint across their operations and supply chain, future-proofing companies for a zero-carbon world. It is the only solution that enables companies to fully automate their carbon accounting across all business units and suppliers, therefore liberating them from the drudgery of collecting and processing emissions data.
By using artificial intelligence to precisely measure emissions in real-time, businesses can identify and tackle carbon hotspots swiftly, enabling them to devise a trackable roadmap to net-zero carbon. At the same time, accurate audit trails and auto-populated annual reports ensure that companies comply with international reporting requirements, and align businesses with global climate targets to mitigate risk across their operations and supply chain.
The Oren Marketplace
Environmental management, social license to operate, safety, renewable energy to lower emissions and operational efficiency for mining can be supported by a range of digital solutions enabling dynamic operations. To address these issues, Shell and IBM joined forces to create the Oren Marketplace – the first B2B solutions platform for the mining sector.
With the adoption of many of the digital solutions offered through Oren, mining companies can adapt in real-time to risks or adjust plans ahead of a problem occurring. The goal is a shift towards proactive management as the optimal outcome for all stakeholders – community, shareholders, and employees.
Emitwise was founded with the goal of helping industries across all sectors reduce their carbon footprint. Similarly, Shell aims to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, or sooner, in step with society and its customers. And Oren is focused on offering innovative products and services that can help mining companies track and reduce their emissions.
“Oren is the starting point for how we help our mining customers to de-carbonise,” explains Carol Chen, Global Lubricants Marketing, Vice President, Shell. “It’s our ambition to work with sectors like mining to help them find their own pathway to net-zero emissions through collaboration. The Oren marketplace offers a great opportunity for collaboration between the miners and technology companies that are joining this digital marketplace.”
Emitwise will be showcasing its vision for a net-zero future live from Lisbon at this year’s Web Summit. Bringing together the people and companies redefining the global tech industry, the online event welcomes 100,000+ attendees from around the world to hear from more than 800 speakers and view offerings from 2,500 startups covering a vast range of topics from Data Science and Climate Change to AI and Machine Learning. To find out more and book your ticket visit
Emitwise is one of many solutions providers on the Oren platform seeking to address the pain points and environmental concerns of heavy industries like mining. To discover a range of solutions that can further support your operation’s digital transformation and commitment to sustainability, visit the