Cyber hacking on the rise for mining executives
As mining companies move forward into the next era of mining operations, the top concern facing the industry is cyber security.
According to ABC News, Australian mining executives say they are becoming increasingly aware of hackers trying to gain access to their sensitive information and are now taking extra precautions when doing business with countries like China.
"Cyber security is impacting businesses right now," said Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche. "If you're an Australian resource company CEO going into China, for example, you simply do not take any of your devices into China.”
However, Chinese hackers are not the only ones causing disruptions for the mining industry.
"We've had examples from people who have hacked in and held to ransom companies, [saying] if they want their database back, they've got to pay X amount of dollars and so forth," said Simon Bennison, CEO of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies.
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"But I think it goes a step further and I think some companies are seriously concerned about risks by particular activist groups which have shown limited boundaries in what sort of degree they'll go to impacting on a company's future."
A Global Information Security Survey in 2013 and found that roughly 41 percent of the mining and metals respondents experienced an increase in external threats over 12 months, including 28 percent that experienced an increase in internal vulnerabilities over the same period.
Earlier this year, a report by Ernst & Young said cyber hacking and breach of information systems security is emerging as one of the top risks to the mining and metals sector.
Cyber security represents a significant challenge for mining companies as information technology (IT) underpins almost every aspect of their operations. The rise of automation has placed the mining industry at the mercy of hackers and companies are being urged to invest generously in IT defenses as these attacks become increasingly sophisticated.
"Existing cyber defenses are pretty weak against even mid-level types of attack from states and organized crime," said Gregory Austin, a Professor with the Center for Cyber Security at University of New South Wales.
"The director of national intelligence in the United States has warned that attacks will get more severe and their impacts, that attacks will change from the simple theft of data to the manipulation of data.”
A Federal Government report on cyber security policy is expected next month, according to the ABC News report, and should reveal new initiatives for companies to protect their data.
"Government has a very big role to play, but ultimately the bigger part lies with private corporations and with private citizens."
Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech
Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.
ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production
ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.
The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.
The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).
The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.
The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.
ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.
ELYSIS technology at a glance:
- The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
- The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
- In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
- ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.
ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.
Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.
Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”
Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”