Industry spotlight: Digging up digital opportunities in the mining industry

Mining companies tackle some seriously significant challenges, day in and day out. From managing frontline workforces out on remote sites, to optimising processing plant operations, to maintaining multi-million dollar fleets of equipment, the logistics are huge. And, right now, a lot of it is still manual.  

In fact, the metals and mining sector is 40% less digitally mature than other industries. Is this lack of technology holding the sector back from true transformation? Could the right digital tools help the industry deliver on today’s pressing challenges, like environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) reporting?

These are big questions. Before we explore any potential answers, though, let’s give the industry a quick pat on the back. After all, in Australia alone, it accounted for more than one-tenth (10.4%) of national GDP in 2020, and employs over a quarter of a million people. Not to mention the fact that, without it, many of the products and services we rely on every day – from our phones to bikes to cars – simply wouldn’t exist.

That said, there is always room for digital improvement

According to BCG, “by accelerating digital transformation, metals and mining players can boost throughput, simplify processes, lower costs, improve metal recovery and yield, and reduce supply chain complexity.” What mining company wouldn’t want a slice of this pie? 

While the focus for many mining leaders may be on investing in digital tools to improve physical mining operations, there are many quicker wins to be had on the journey.

In procurement, for example, BCG states that digital transformation could boost productivity by up to 50%, and reduce contract costs by 50%. The sheer volume of contracts, purchase orders and other agreements that are being processed by the big players in mining is staggering – and, if many of these processes are still manual (according to BCG, they are for three-quarters of mining companies), then there are some quick and easy wins to be had:

  • Faster processing of purchase orders 
  • Reduced administrative overheads
  • Fewer errors in ordering
  • Less risk of stockouts

A solution like Docusign Agreement Cloud can plug right in to existing platforms to help mining companies start reaping benefits like these instantaneously. 

Other easy wins with Docusign

There are countless other use cases for Docusign within the mining industry. Each application promises to save time, cut costs and streamline operations. Some examples include:

  • Land owner & operator agreements Mining companies are forever pursuing contracts with land owners, whether for exploration or mining purposes. Digitising this process makes it easier and faster for all involved.
  • Field tickets Processing field tickets like work orders, change orders, and service agreements signed by the operator’s representative can be onerous. Docusign digitises the signoff process allowing you to route contracts directly to the people with signing authority.
  • Shutdown processes Delays are costly when mine sites or refineries shut down for maintenance – especially if there is a forced shutdown. If signatures are required to authorise resumption of operations, make it as fast as possible by digitising the process.
  • Service provider management The mining workforce includes many contractors and subcontractors. And every one of these contractors will need to sign paperwork to proceed with their services. 

A bright digital future for mining

The fact that the mining industry lags behind others in terms of digital transformation is a good thing. It means there’s huge room for improvement. Mining leaders should be exploring ways to embrace new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and digital twins to help optimise operations, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower power and water consumption, and more.

At a time when the world’s attention is firmly fixed on ways to reduce our collective carbon footprint, such improvements in the mining industry are no longer a nice-to-have. They will be imperative for the long-term success and viability of the industry. 

So whether you start small with a simple yet powerful solution like Docusign, or you dive in with the big tools to transform processing plant operations, digital transformation in mining is the way of the future. Ready to get started? Contact us today.

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