The first predication is diesel machinery being banned in all new underground mines by 2023 and existing underground mines in the process of phasing it out. By 2023, BDO predicts Australian miners will have made significant headway towards electric underground mines.
Sherif Andrawes, BDO’s Global Head of Natural Resources – who is based in Perth - said Australian mines still rely on diesel so the construction of electric mines will be a big change for the sector but safer working conditions and increased investment will be the two big wins.
“We now understand a lot more about the health and safety dangers for people exposed to nano diesel particles and electric mines will go a long way in reducing those risks for staff working underground,” Sherif said.
“We predict companies that transition to electric mines will raise more capital as sustainability becomes a major consideration for investors. This is a shift we’re already seeing in the Australian market – if projects aren’t green, the investment won’t come. This will only compound as companies are required to disclose their emissions and climate risk – companies will face a cost not to transition,” he said.
The second major prediction is that by 2023 at least 10 Australian mining companies will have used crowdsourcing or ‘hackathons’ to analyse data and find solutions to fast-track their exploration projects.
“BDO is predicting a trend that sees Australian miners using a global marketplace of data experts to solve their exploration roadblocks, where solutions can be found for a fraction of the cost with a much quicker turnaround,” said Sherif.
The research also predicts that by 2023 more Australian mining companies - in particular lithium companies - will offer in-country beneficiation plants, with the opportunity to add value in Australia. As the industry and technology evolves efforts will continue for miners to move up the value chain capturing more of the value, and better margins on the final product.
“In-country beneficiation plants has been an aspiration for Australia for some time now but we have seen limited success due to technological, marketing and cost issues. There’s opportunity to pursue this now as Australia’s position strengthens due to geopolitical uncertainties, an abundance of energy sources – including renewables – and the remoteness of our sites making it less feasible to transport low value ores over long distances,” Sherif said.
The new predictions for 2023 follow a report released in January 2018, where it was predicted that artificial intelligence (AI) would be used to negotiate and price contracts and humans would no longer control the deals in market.
Sherif said while BDO predicts Australia will eventually move in this direction of AI controlling deals in market, little progress has been made so far.
“Slowly we have seen AI introduced into the industry from exploration to mining and processing but the human element in price negotiation prevails in Australia and overseas markets for now,” Sherif said.
The 2018 report also predicted that crowdsourced equity funding would transform the growth path of junior explorers and tech companies will be the miners of Australia’s future.
“In Australia there’s been slower take-up of crowdsourced equity funding than we expected, with one of the major issues being the platforms themselves coming to market slower than anticipated due to regulatory and technology issues. Another challenge in Australia has been finding companies willing to be the first-movers in this direction,” Sherif said.
“Since the release of our last report, we have seen more technology companies being influential in mining either through entering into direct offtake agreements with mining companies or even investing in mining companies themselves. The key objective of tech companies is to secure the supply of rare but essential minerals without which their products can’t be made,” he said.
2023 The near future of mining