The 2023 Mining Indaba held in Cape Town last week demonstrated that we are a planet taking charge and that we have identified the need for a just energy transition. Importantly, mining companies are embracing and leveraging data across the value chain like never before to unlock the critical minerals needed to achieve this global transition in the most effective and efficient way possible, says Marc Delport, Seequent’s Head of Customer Solutions – EMEA.
Long-standing Mining Indaba participant Seequent, The Bentley Subsurface Company, builds solutions aimed at helping the mining industry’s digital transformation, giving miners new ways to solve increasingly complex problems, manage risk, and uncover valuable insights from data, quicker.
“There’s a definite and palpable excitement across the industry about the power of technology to unlock the kinds of decision-making potential required to drive the energy transition,” says Delport. With more than 8,000 delegates at the 2023 Mining Indaba, he believes that it is evident that the industry is positive about the prospects of mining on the continent.
“We are a long-standing contributor at the Mining Indaba, having been here for many years and having built long-standing relationships with both the Indaba and customers in the industry. It is a great opportunity to connect with existing customers but also to meet new people and build new relationships. With this in mind, the number of delegates is encouraging because it is indicative of the opportunity people see on this continent, a vote of confidence in the value of the resources across Africa. There was a real energy, excitement and awareness of the opportunity this continent holds,” explain Delport.
The opportunity he refers to is the global energy transition, which requires critical, or strategic, minerals. “Africa is seen as a continent with a wealth of these resources to support the just energy transition journey. There is a need for as many as an additional 60+ cobalt mines by 2035 and a doubling in copper demand by that time, among more, and so there is no doubt about the opportunity on these shores,” says Delport.
While the mining sector may not have embraced technology as fully as other industries in the past, he says this has changed.
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There is a measurable commitment across the industry with industry players embracing technology up and down the value chain. They understand that to realise the continent’s opportunity, leveraging technology is vitally important. In other words, ‘How do we discover, extract and process faster and more efficiently to meet the critical mineral needs required to drive the energy transition and protect our planet?’
He says that technology is exceptionally powerful when it comes to empowering quick and accurate decision-making. “For example, we need to know quickly which projects are a ‘no’ as opposed to a ‘yes’. There are far more projects that are not viable as opposed to those that are and decisions need to be made timeously based on the most accurate data and insights. This concept holds true from core imagery through to data management. Solutions such as ours, leverage cloud technology to drive data centralisation, making it available in real-time to all stakeholders anywhere in the world for faster, and more transparent, decisions. This breaks down silos that have slowed mining and exploration for decades,” he says.
Related to the need to explore, mine and process in the most efficient manner possible, a key theme at the 2023 Indaba was environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies and requirements.
ESG was front of the mind and part of most discussions and presentations at the Indaba this year. It was at the forefront because society at large, and shareholders specifically, expect it to be. This is why the discussion around strategic minerals and the energy transition includes leveraging data and technology – how do we achieve this with the least footprint on our planet?
This year, Seequent highlighted its Imago and MX Deposit products. Imago is a cloud-based geological data management software, specifically designed to extract the maximum value from your core and chip photography.
“This supports every aspect of the geological process from exploration to grade control. Imago enhances the capture, cataloguing and sharing of core and chip images, from any source, and then seamlessly integrates that data with geological management and modelling tools. MX Deposit is a SaaS data management platform that enables the collection, management, sharing, and access of drill hole and point sample data in the cloud. “This helps explorers find the next world-class deposit. It enhances collaboration and efficiency across project teams by accelerating data flow throughout your connected ecosystem – and is flexible, accessible, and reduces errors with real-time data validation. MX Deposit can be installed remotely in a matter of hours (not weeks) saving time right from sign up, allowing users to start logging, managing, and collecting data immediately,” explains Delport.
He says there was an overwhelming feeling at the Mining Indaba, beyond the tangible excitement about the role technology will play in exploring and executing projects in Africa more effectively and speedily.