Increased “transformation pressure” on mining companies, including to accelerate decarbonisation efforts, is likely to be a factor in a significant rise in the level of disconnect between sites and head offices on innovation outcomes revealed in London-based Axora’s latest Innovation Forecast report.
Axora, creator of an award-winning technology marketplace for heavy industry, surveyed 160 mining and metals company leaders earlier this year for its latest annual market research report. Nearly 80% of respondents worked in companies with 500 or more employees.
Axora said 84% of respondents saw an increase in the proportion of global annual revenue dedicated to digital and technology transformation, and innovation, in the past year. However, only 55% said the majority of allocated budgets were being spent in those areas.
Barriers to technology adoption included IT infrastructure, cited by 43% of respondents; cultural resistance to technical innovation (38%); and insufficient knowledge about new solutions (36%).
Axora’s report said: “Top barriers to technology adoption are challenges that require internal action.
“Whether the barriers relate to vision, investment or skills, there needs to be an internal drive to overcome them.
“Most mining companies would agree that progress in this area is hindered by a, ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ mentality.”
An Axora spokesperson told InvestMETS.com the major surprise in this year’s survey was the increase in the apparent level of disconnect between head office and mine sites vis-à-vis innovation goals and progress.
“We believe that the underlying cause is actually the acceleration of transformation pressure which itself applies more pressure on the connection between HQ and mine site,” the spokesperson said.
This year 85% of respondents saw a “disconnect between corporate innovation goals and mine site goals” and 89% thought “tensions” between corporate and mine site teams hindered innovation progress compared with 71% and 82%, respectively, last year.
Mine site respondents were much more likely to cite “misalignment of innovation goals” (92%) as an issue than corporate respondents (58%).
“We believe there is significantly more pressure on HQs especially in ESG generally and mostly sustainability in developed markets and it’s beginning to land in the mines more aggressively,” Axora’s spokesperson told InvestMETS.com.
“HQs are thin organisations in many mining companies and don’t have the resources to run very well managed change management programs.
“Yet their investors are cranking up the heat on them to go faster.”
The report said 100% of respondents maintained technology was critical to the survival of mining companies and their operations.
However, more 2023 respondents said it was “somewhat critical” than “absolutely critical” compared with last year, given other relevant factors.
Axora’s survey respondents were based mainly in Australia, Canada, USA, Brazil, Chile, Peru, South Africa and UK, with about 41% in the Americas, 31% EMEA and 28% APAC.