Mining still a tough road for tech newcomers: CITIC’s O’Brien

Richard Roberts

‘… [but] I think we should be celebrating the innovation going on’

Rapid technology advances and cost reductions won’t necessarily dissolve barriers to entry to the niche mining and metals market for major, non-mining tech players, according to a leader in the Australian mining IT space.

CITIC Pacific Mining digital technology and innovation general manager, Mark O’Brien, who has been at the large Western Australia iron ore miner for more than a decade, delivered a keynote address at this week’s IMARC event in Sydney on, 'Practical Applications of AI in Mining'.

Asked about recent suggestions from within the mining industry that large global IT firms with access to the world’s best AI (human) brains and powerful R&D engines, or start-ups with out-of-the-box ideas, will usurp incumbent providers of software in markets such as mining and metals, O’Brien told it wasn’t necessarily a lay-down mesire.

“I have noticed a lot of smaller companies or start-ups getting purchased by OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] because it’s their quickest path to adding in these skillsets to their mix,” he said.

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