A report released last year by Deloitte – Value Beyond Compliance in Australia: Creating Shared Value for Mines and Their Communities – tracks important trends in mining. While the 2020 version of this report will focus heavily on COVID-19, it is an interesting exercise to see where we were before the pandemic hit.

The 2019 trends were:

  • Mining strategy.
  • Managing risk in the digital era.
  • Commodities of the future.
  • Analytics and artificial intelligence.
  • Sustained shared social outcomes.
  • Diversity and inclusion programs.
  • Work, workers and the workplace.
  • Digitising the supply chain.
  • Decoding capital projects.
  • Demanding provenance.
  • Water-energy nexus.

The report notes, “On a strategic level, an annual engagement plan should align business strategy, business impacts on stakeholders, and stakeholder impacts on the business. At the tactical level, stakeholder interaction and channels must adequately address nuances within the stakeholder landscape. Cross-collaboration between business functions at the operational level is also important to appropriately address stakeholder requirements while realising value and efficiencies.”

Looking at “engagement” through the lens of COVID-19, mining operations have a lot to think about. The trend regarding “Work, workers and the workplace” is especially important.

Entire workplaces have to re-assessed to gauge worker exposure, whether that is underground and or in the pit. How a worker enters and exits heavy machinery, how they conduct themselves in a control tower, and even how they engage with other workers and visitors to a mine site are now critical operational factors.

And don’t make the mistake of assuming everything will go back to normal once the pandemic subsides. Safety and health professionals will be tasked with continuing to evaluate risk not just from the standpoint of whether a worker is wearing fall protection or a truck is being operated on a haul road with a sufficient berm. They will have to be prepared for the next time virus transmission through human-to-human contact has the potential to punch operations in the nose.

As if mines did not have enough to do addressing climate change and government regulations, this new layer of responsibility looks even more important.

One more thing to add to the “to-do” list.

Mark S. Kuhar, editor

[email protected]

+1 (330) 722‐4081

Twitter: @editormarkkuhar