Technology among megatrends reshaping mining: Newmont boss

‘AI’s accelerating advancement is creating unknown unknowns’

The CEO of gold major Newmont believes the speed of technological change around the world has all of us on the cusp of an era “as consequential and disruptive as the industrial revolution, if not more so”.

“Whilst technology has helped make our businesses safer, cleaner, more efficient and productive, the velocity of technological change today is changing social and economic dynamics in ways not seen since the industrial revolution,” Tom Palmer told the World Mining Congress in Brisbane, Queensland.

Palmer said technology was one of three mega-trends shaking the foundations of mining and society.

“We’re [miners] no longer competing with each other for talent,” he said.

“Thanks to the digital revolution, just one aspect of the technology megatrend, we now find ourselves in a global war for talent with every other industry.”

Geopolitical turbulence and greater societal expectations around transparency and value-sharing were other megatrends.

“Together, these megatrends simultaneously animate, interact with, and reinforce one another in ways we cannot predict, giving rise to a growing meta-crisis, one in which we will be expected to succeed in right now and over the long-term,” Palmer said.

“The intensity and velocity of these global megatrends are so universal and disruptive that if, as an industry, we are not agile enough to adapt, align and lead, we will risk losing control of our businesses.”

Palmer said autonomous vehicles, remote operations and asset monitoring were “critical to how we mine today and, even more so, in the future” and a US$100 million strategic alliance with Caterpillar aimed to develop and deploy battery electric openpit and underground trucks by the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, “the exponential acceleration of technological change, particularly in artificial intelligence and long language models, requires that we temper these game-changing technologies with tried and true human wisdom and robust social process, translated into people-centric, values-based decisions to responsibly govern and harness these transformational digital innovations”.

“At Newmont, we are using artificial intelligence algorithms and machine learning to monitor air and water quality, as well as the condition of wildlife and other natural resources,” Palmer said.

“But like any technology, AI, including large language models like Chat GPT, are advancing and self-learning so rapidly that even their own creators are not sure how they are able to do what they do.

“Earlier this year more than 1000 technology leaders and researchers working on AI signed an open letter warning that these technologies present, and I quote, profound risks to society and humanity.

“In short, AI’s accelerating advancement is creating unknown unknowns.

“We must prepare our businesses and our workforces to responsibly navigate these technological opportunities and threats by anchoring ourselves in our core values so that we can all make moral and people-centric decisions in fast-moving and complex situations either driven or exacerbated by technology.”


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