Findings from the latest Executive Operational Risk Management (ORM) Survey by global operations management consultancy, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS), show that despite a high adoption rate of digital technology and data by industry to mitigate risk, the human element is not adequately considered. 

As such, digitalization efforts may continue to fail.    

“In 2020, digitalization was among the top priorities for CEOs at this year’s Mining Indaba,” says Marco Pagnini, Director of Mining for DSS.

“When it comes to risk management, approximately 60% of critical risk controls, for example, for fall of ground and human-machine interactions, are still implemented by people through manual processes. This risk can be significantly reduced through the proper application of digital technologies and data analytics.”

Where risk management is concerned, the majority of companies (92%) believe digital tools will bring value to their operations.

However, only 52% have a clear, unified digital transformation strategy and a less than half (49%) are focused on developing the requisite skills and mindsets and behaviors of people to effectively adopt digital tools.

For example, digital solutions such as sensors, smart wearables, video analytics, artificial intelligence and VR/AR can be effective tools to mitigate risk if applied correctly. 

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Yet reams of data alone do not produce actionable insights; people must be intrinsically involved in analysing and interpreting the data, and translating this into concrete actions to mitigate risk. 

“Furthermore, mining companies have still not broken the silos between safety, operations and IT departments to focus on priority risks – a trend that we have seen broadly across the industry,” says Tatiana Zamorova, Senior Manager of Digital and Innovation Practice at DSS. 

The lack of corresponding skills in the workforce exacerbates this problem.  Half of companies (50%) do not have strong data analytics capability.

These challenges are however not exclusive to the mining industry, as research shows around 70% of all digital transformation projects fail.

“There is a tendency to invest in the newest, most innovative solutions available on the market, but without correctly identifying what problem the technology is aiming to solve.

“In a highly intensive, people business like mining, it is critical for leaders to adopt a risk-based and user-centric approach that effectively combines digital solutions with the necessary mindsets and behaviours shift and capability building to drive real-time risk mitigation,” concludes Pagnini.