South Africa – Technology and innovation have become crucial parameters to produce efficient and sustainable mining operations, says consultancy Frost & Sullivan Africa ICT industry analyst Joanita Roos.

This is the result of the South African mining industry experiencing a significant decrease in profitability over the past two years, primarily owing to rising energy costs, labour unrest, the demand for increased wages, and older and deeper mines resulting in costlier operations.

In 2013, the information and communication technologies (ICT) spend by mining companies in South Africa was estimated at R1.78-billion and, with average growth at a CAGR of 2.3% a year, is expected to grow to R2-billion by 2018.

An upcoming Frost & Sullivan report reveals that mining companies are moving away from high capital spend and are starting to migrate to, and make use of, more hosting and outsourcing solutions.

Cloud-based services are also expected to grow at a CAGR of 26.7% by the year 2018 and the adoption of cloud technologies is fast becoming a growing trend within the mining industry.

Companies that have already deployed technologies, such as modelling, simulation, and condition monitoring, are experiencing a vast improvement in operations, a reduction in running costs, and a greater return-on-investments (ROI).

Key trends like real time data collection and analysis, and investment into system integration, automation, as well as software and mining technical systems, also support optimisation and improve productivity.

Frost & Sullivan concludes that skills within the mining industry are in dire need of improvement, and that training and skill transformation go hand in hand with technology upgrades.

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