Mining companies are facing complex challenges that are reshaping industries around the world. At the forefront of the global energy transition, investors demand sustainable practices and higher accountability.1

Digital transformation is essential for a resilient, resilient, and sustainable mining sector. Geopolitical volatility and trade uncertainty are disrupting supply chains, as the industry grapples with the challenges of meeting the growing demand for minerals essential to the energy transition.

Existing reserves are depleting and discovering new reserves is becoming more difficult and expensive. In 2015, McKinsey & Company reported that worldwide mining operations were 28% less productive than a decade earlier, even after adjusting for declining ore grades.2 After nearly a decade, shortages now affect the availability of metals, creating the possibility of near-term supply cuts, particularly for copper, lithium and cobalt, which are critical to the energy transition. Key minerals such as copper have a projected supply deficit, with a potential shortfall of 9.9 million tonnes by 2035.3

The mining industry also faces chronic labor shortages that add to its challenges, with 86% of mining executives finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain the talent they need.4 Amid these complexities, mining companies are trying to balance productivity and profitability using cloud-based platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT), mixed reality, and more recently, generative AI.

Microsoft for Energy and Resources

Achieve more in the energy and resources industry with reliable solutions from Microsoft.

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Accelerating digital transformation

In the December 2023 blog, I discussed how mining companies are embracing digital technologies to drive business agility, drive efficiency, and accelerate innovation across the entire mining value chain, including exploration. and from extraction to processing and transportation. While these efforts have traditionally focused on specific business outcomes, current trends emphasize broader goals such as corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals and the transition to net zero emissions.

Achieving these goals requires a strong data foundation, digital effectiveness, and digital maturity. Change starts with technology-savvy leaders with a foundation in AI and a focus on sustainability. With a vision informed by a clear understanding of their organization’s challenges and opportunities, effective leaders can jumpstart their innovation roadmap with solutions like the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform, which integrates databases, analytics, AI, and data. Provides a single, flexible platform. Governance

Digital maturity deepens with an empowered, skilled workforce that uses AI to make informed decisions and streamline repetitive tasks, freeing up more time for value-added activities. For example, in my last blog, I shared how in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 combines generative AI with mixed reality to help frontline workers in industrial settings perform complex tasks. Help solve problems quickly for completion and minimal downtime and faster learning.

Pursuing innovation with a future-ready mindset

At Microsoft, our enduring mission is to “empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.” We are honored to work with a partner ecosystem that shares our vision.

Digital innovation that remains relevant over time integrates people, processes, technology and information. Multinational Japanese firms Asahi Kasei Group and ZEAL Corporation demonstrated this approach by implementing a data management platform based on Microsoft Azure Data Factory, Microsoft Purview, and Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics. The platform integrates over 1,200 systems across diverse operations such as chemicals, healthcare, electronics, construction, materials, services and engineering. By breaking down data silos, the team can gain new insights that unlock business benefits.

Siemens is another great example of enabling people to achieve more. To empower employees, the company created an AI-powered collaboration app based on the Microsoft Azure OpenAI service and Microsoft Teams. Siemens aims to increase innovation, efficiency, and problem-solving agility by connecting field and shop floor workers with operations and engineering teams. Now, frontline workers who encounter problems in the design and manufacturing process can easily connect with engineers to resolve them.

Employees can receive notifications, create problem reports and collaborate on tasks on any device. The app provides preconfigured industrial machinery solutions and accelerates knowledge sharing with an AI-powered natural language interface. For example, employees can report problems in their own language, which is automatically translated into the common language.

In my last example, Schieder Electric wanted to accelerate innovation for important goals like reducing carbon emissions. With a broad portfolio of integrated tools, solutions and services, AI has become essential for generating data-driven insights and actions. The company is leveraging multiple AI services to accelerate innovation, including Microsoft Copilot, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, Azure OpenAI, and Azure Machine Learning. Schneider Electric is using Copilot to automate routine tasks and offer intelligent code suggestions that streamline programmable logic controller (PLC) programming. The company has also built bots to help with customer service and financial analysis.

Creating sustainable innovation for a sustainable future

Digital transformation can be a long journey, and today’s pressing issues can sometimes overwhelm our efforts toward growth and innovation. For sustainable innovation, we incorporate the McKinsey Three Horizons model into our digital transformation roadmaps.

This model provides a systematic approach that miners can use to efficiently allocate resources, balancing immediate business needs with constant innovation for future success. Organizations are encouraged to explore new markets and invest in business models, products and technologies that align innovation programs with future challenges and growth opportunities. As a framework for strategic innovation and growth, the Three Horizons model can support miners in times of change, disruption and uncertainty.

In addition to innovation initiatives, we consider key aspects such as customer adoption, change management, change fatigue, organizational capabilities, culture change, workforce reskilling, and governance. These considerations are critical to future-proofing the mining enterprise and sustaining digital and AI innovation.

How Microsoft can help

Digital transformation and the adoption of AI are poised to revolutionize the mining industry over the next decade and beyond. With improvements in safety, productivity, profitability, security, health and environmental performance, Microsoft technologies are already making a significant impact. From articulating your vision for innovation and identifying top challenges to creating your solution roadmap, a disciplined approach is critical to keeping that momentum going.

The digital sustainable mine of the future integrates physical, digital, and sustainable elements with information, innovation, and human ingenuity. Adaptive, flexible, forward-thinking Mine offers a customized reference model and roadmap to help mining organizations achieve their vision for the future.

This approach is not just about outcomes, or business impact – it is about investing in the processes and technologies that enable the mining industry to adapt to change and move us all towards a sustainable tomorrow. Help speed up.

Learn more about Microsoft solutions., Top Ten Mining ESG Trends for 2024.

2Productivity in Mining Operations: Reversing the Downward Trend, McKinsey & Company.

3Tracking Trends to 2024, Deloitte Global.

4Has mining lost its luster? Why Talent Is Going Elsewhere and How to Bring Them Back, McKinsey & Company.

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