Management Systems for Step-Change Innovation in Mining

CIM Montreal 2015
James McKinnell (NRC Energy, Mining and Environment), Andy Reynolds (NRC Energy, Mining and Environment)
The mining industry is sending a clear call for a step change in productivity through innovation, finding new ways to control its own future and reduce its vulnerability to the vagaries of declining grades, rocketing costs and uncompetitive investment profiles. This paper examines existing roles and relationships between producers, suppliers and providers of innovation services to identify how industry structures currently limit the rate and scale of innovation to incremental improvement. This has served the industry well in the past but cannot meet the present challenge.
A qualitative analysis of the allocation of risks and benefits in the innovation process is used to show how a mismatch drives the apparent risk-aversion of industry participants that are best placed to provide the step change that is being demanded by the executive suite. We then look to adjacent industries, also characterized by high risk and radical innovation, for approaches to managing the process to align risk exposure to the business case for change across the value chain so that each stakeholder is motivated to take on the appropriate level of technology risk by the incentive of commensurate reward. The rigorous processes and clear hierarchies of the discipline of Systems Engineering, developed for managing innovation complexity in the Defence, Aerospace and ICT industry, are proposed as a framework for adjusted industry roles and relationships necessary to deliver the step changes that the mining industry is looking for. Suppliers of services, technologies and equipment are identified as key stakeholders in these structures.
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