“Technology, in its various stages of evolution, is our business at IBM,” reflects Manish Chawla, Global Managing Director for Energy & Natural Resources. “We've been involved in mining for decades, and just like in any other industry we’ve re-invented our offerings to add services, software, data handling, cloud and AI capabilities. Our focus has progressed from IT and core functions to meet the needs of business transformation projects such as SAP implementations or process outsourcing, to support the mining industry in managing data as a strategic asset; helping the industry to capture, monetise and secure it.”
IBM’s portfolio features a set of offerings targeting enterprise & operations transformation, outsourcing, SAP implementations, and helping clients use their data to their specific strategic advantage. “Look at technologies such as blockchain for traceability in the supply chain,” Chawla adds. “Today, we are a full-service partner focused on the employee experience, while using technology for transforming various functions across a mining organisation.”
Chawla notes a recognition from the mining industry that technology can now solve specific problems from connectivity through to autonomous solutions. “Now we’re able to harness the data, the C-suite can see the importance of digitisation and how it will drive the business in the future,” he says. “A technology-savvy and enabled mining enterprise is critical for attracting and supporting the workforce of the future. How do you get people out of the unsafe conditions of underground mines in remote areas and make the industry attractive to a new generation? Technology holds the key.”
IBM is helping companies embrace Mining 4.0 and support the move towards the digital mine of the future by developing “data-driven productivity platform with Sandvik, a leading supplier of underground mining equipment. This partnership has seen us connect their assets, their equipment, to our cloud to be able to pull data off. The value proposition to a mining company is not only to get data from the Sandvik equipment, but also from other vendor feeds,” explains Chawla. “Interoperability as well as the open data standard is critical for a mine operator. They get visibility to production information, help with equipment, maintenance analytics and improved uptime.”
Built on IBM technologies, Sandvik offers a platform for underground mine optimisation, both for production and data/maintenance related aspects. “We're also the primary data analytics platform and AI software services partner for Vale for where they have an AI centre of competence,” Chawla reveals. “We're doing an extensive set of use cases with them, including route optimisation for trucks, testing safety use cases and optimisation of smelters.” IBM is also working with Newmont Goldcorp to help them better understand their ore body, allowing them to reduce the time spent by geologists in analysis and data collection to determine where to guide the next drilling campaign. “We've reduced inaccuracy by 95% with the geology data platform that we call ‘cognitive ore body discovery’,” says Chawla.
IBM is committed to supporting the sustainability efforts of mining operations across the globe. “By using intelligent workflows on the blockchain to address social sustainability in the context of the entire supply chain, miners can demonstrate social responsibility and also begin to build a culture of innovation,” believes Chawla. “The work we are doing on the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN) with RCS Global allows businesses to track cobalt from industrial and mining companies to ensure that they are working responsibly, whether it's in the Congo or other parts of the world, across the supply chain from mine to smelter to battery manufacturers and to automotive OEMs.”