There is no denying that the past several years have been extremely challenging for the mining industry.

The decline in commodity prices, increased union pressures and rise in international competition have all contributed to this difficult period and 2020 has made it only more challenging. 

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 1, 2021
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That said, 2021 provides an opportunity for us as industry leaders to own our impact on the mining industry and the millions of staff, contractors, families and communities who make this industry possible. This year is an opportunity to not fear the future but to understand and own it.

AUTHOR:
Stuart Woolmington, CEO: WinWin International 

This immense change is taking place largely due to digitisation and it is a change that will have a positive impact on mine workers and their careers. The opportunity to own the impact lies in three key strategies.

Embrace the change

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is no longer a buzzword but a reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly increased the need for digitisation and it is crucial to embrace this change to remain competitive.

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This change can be daunting but organisations who have a clear company-wide strategy, coupled with a user-adoption and training plan will come out on top.

This training should help employees understand why change is taking place and empower employees to take advantage of the new technologies.

Create a personalised people development strategy

Our mines will always need great talent to operate. Therefore, it’s crucial that we embrace the digital age and create a personalised journey for employees from recruitment, onboarding and induction through to career development and growth.

By connecting your workforce to their colleagues, managers and work environments through digital tools, you have a holistic view of employee health, happiness and progression.

All these data points will allow you to identify opportunities to improve as well as proactively engage workers to ensure that you develop and retain your top talent.

Use technology to create safer working environments

Health and safety is and will remain a crucial indicator of successful mining operations. By connecting your workforce with their colleagues, managers and equipment through digital tools you’re able to create safer working environments.

Using digital technologies such as the Internet of Things and cloud applications, you can now deliver personalised health and safety content to workers on the job and allow them to quickly report incidents.

These same digital tools can be extended into surrounding communities to make health and safety a priority beyond the mine.

Although many of us were happy to bid farewell to 2020, we must not forget the lessons it has taught us about rapid change. In 2021, we must own the change that is occurring and work closely with staff, contractors and communities to ensure they are prepared for this exciting future.

About the author:
Stuart Woolmington has over 30 years’ experience in learning and development and strategic communications