Technology is propelling Australia’s mining industry forward

Connectivity and collaboration underpins future progression

Guy Danskine
Technology is propelling Australia’s mining industry forward

We like staying connected to our customers and the industries we work within. That’s why last year, we conducted extensive research to uncover the state of mining sector: what is the outlook, what are the challenges and opportunities, and what role does technology play in the future of mining. Equinix Mining Technology Report 2021–22 is a leader’s guide to digitisation in mining today, describing how technology is helping miners to meet current challenges, capitalise on opportunities and shape the entire industry for a brighter future.

According to our research, despite ongoing pressures the sector faces, the future for the mining, oil and gas industry is very bright. CEO of Dassault Systèmes GEOVIA Michelle Ash, who we interviewed as part of our research, agrees: “I think the future of the sector is very, very positive. From a growth standpoint, yes, but also: we’ve seen some fantastic commodity prices, which have brought many projects forward. Technology adoption too will help reset operating and capital costs [to aid expansion].”

While the future of mining is optimistic, the leaders we spoke to identified several challenges keeping them up at night. These include CAPEX squeezes, rising environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns, and the need for robust digital architecture to facilitate automation and data analytics. They also spoke at length about how a greater focus on connectivity and collaboration is helping manage through change.

Equinix Mining Technology Report 2021-22

This report presents a comprehensive view of the latest thinking and activities in the sector, while also exploring the intersection of its technology, people and operations. Our research draws on 50 interviews with mining leaders across key commodities, keeping our finger on the pulse to get a feel for what's happening both right now and may do in the immediate future.

Read More
Rear view of female architect in protective workwear photographing quarry through digital tablet

CONNECTIVITY

According to our research, 93% of the mining leaders we surveyed have stated they intend to ramp up digitalisation efforts in 2022, with almost 44% saying they will significantly increase technology investments.

Among the top tech investment areas are data analytics (20%), digital connectivity (20%) and integrated automation (19%). More importantly, technology has been identified as crucial to overcoming critical challenges in mining, including driving the ESG agenda and CAPEX management.

Tania Constable, CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia, one of our interviewees, believes that connectivity could be a game changer. “Technology must be at the forefront of our thinking,” she says, “because it plays a key role in today’s increased safety considerations, the need for greater sustainability, and the fact that we need to decarbonise as a society at a domestic level, but also internationally.”

Digitalisation is making mines safer for miners by reducing the need for human inputs in high-risk processes. More advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are also providing increasingly sophisticated insights to improve efficiency, safety and compliance.

But in order for these benefits to be realised, miners need fast, reliable connectivity. This is partially due to the highly remote nature of mining sites, and partially because the majority of projects today require cooperation and collaboration between multiple parties, who are often distributed geographically. Robust digital architecture is vital to successful automation and real-time data analysis, as mine sites generate and capture significant volumes of data daily.

We have seen first-hand the positive impact of enhanced digital infrastructure and connectivity with the recent opening of our latest Data Centre (PE3) in Perth, providing low-latency connectivity and access to essential infrastructure to support digital transformation and collaboration. Perth is set to become Australia’s digital gateway connecting Australia, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. The city is seeing increasing demand from global cloud, network and Global Engineering joint venture (JV)/collaboration providers and as such world-class infrastructure is being rolled out to help meet this demand. Perth plays a strategic role as the nation’s west coast connectivity point and will soon be directly connected to Muscat in Oman through Platform Equinix® thanks to the Oman Australia subsea cable.

COLLABORATION

According to our research, Australia’s mine expansions are being fuelled by collaboration. Partnerships—whether in the form of acquisitions, JVs, or other forms of collaboration—are expected to contribute 25% of projected growth in 2022.

Technology, and more specifically the adoption of hybrid and multicloud services, has been critical to enable increased local and cross-border collaborations for Australian miners. In the past, rigidities in digital infrastructure and data security issues made it challenging for mining partnerships to flourish. Now, however, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), digital twins and other collaborative technologies that deliver greater visibility to mining partnerships benefit from the flexibility and scalability of hybrid and multicloud environments. And in today’s cloud environment, mining, oil and gas companies can easily connect, transfer and share data, whether with headquarters, remote operating centres or partners, to facilitate smoother collaboration.

With more advanced digital infrastructure set-ups—of which our new PE3 is an example—to come, Australia’s mining industry can look forward to more domestic and international expansion in 2022 and beyond.

This is a huge boon to companies facing ore replacement challenges and ESG concerns. Increased collaboration means Australian miners can look forward to the discovery and development of new ore bodies to meet surging demand. And with regard to ESG goals, strategic partnerships with providers of cutting-edge green technologies have helped Australia’s resources sector accelerate decarbonisation efforts and meet community and investor expectations for sustainability.

Leap into the future of mining

For the Australian mining industry to continue to move forward and grow, mining, oil and gas companies need to ensure they’re in the best place possible to make the most of emerging market opportunities through better connectivity, smart adoption and implementation of technology, and collaboration with partners. We believe that in this way, miners can hone a competitive edge by taking a digital-first approach to the future.

For more detailed insights, access the full research report here.

Guy Danskine
Guy Danskine Managing Director, Australia
Subscribe to the Equinix Blog