Mining Industry is one of the industries that have evolved continuously from innovation. Sending a horse to underground to convey broken ore to using driver-less truck we surely have come far off from where all this started.

 

horseHorse Picture from via @TrevAHall tweet.

New technology in mining develop in two ways, one is in-house R&D manage and run by a mining company within its own organization level. The second one is Collaborative approach between Industry and academe, driven by industry-specific challenges.

The majority of new developments and cross-cutting technologies we see in the mining sector, a good number of them became possible by collaboration between industry and academic research groups like the Canadian Mining Innovation Council (CMIC), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), AMIRA International and the International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII). These channels have served very well as a platform for collaborative innovation amongst the competitors to solve shared challenges, especially around socio-economic and sustainability issues. At large, such collaborative projects have been successful in delivering innovation in broader areas for mining companies. But still, academe driven research collaboration often suffer from slow speed of delivery and very little engagement from outside industry. This lack of involvement of cross-industry experts at larger level results in slow innovation growth and under-utilization of existing technologies.

Most of the mining companies are reserved about technology advantage they carry and in-house technologies are often treasured as well guarded secrets. Considering the competitive nature of mining, it’s natural that companies who have spent an enormous amount of time and money developing such technologies to earn this leverage will be reserved when it comes to sharing this knowledge openly. When it comes to Open Innovation this instinct becomes the deterrent for any change and dialogue. Mining Companies need to understand that Open Innovation does not intend to leak or loose companies IP. The general lack of understanding of Open Innovation Process, an absence of clear legal IP framework often results in reluctant behavior towards Open Innovation especially at mid – senior level management.

Open Innovation, a term first coined by Henry Chesbrough strongly suggests that companies should involve external as well as internal ideas, capabilities to develop the technology. The reasoning behind “Open Innovation” is simple “Not all the smart people work for you” instead knowledge is dispersed across companies, culture and places and by adopting Open Innovation companies can leverage outside technology and develop it further for their organizational need.

Why Open Innovation?

Open Innovation helps to manage internal R&D at lower cost, faster time and is lean in the process than the traditional way of in-house innovation and technology development. Via Open Innovation companies can develop technology faster by acquiring them from outside than spending valuable time and money doing research on something that is already discovered or solved outside.

Especially considering the current mining down cycle money and time in mining is becoming the key defining factors for where major spending should go. Thereby Open Innovation model suits both large mining companies and junior players.

Current state of Open Innovation in the Mining

Open Innovation in Mining is nothing new; Goldcorp was one of the first to open their data, putting it out in 2000. After that, there have been few several open innovation program. The biggest successful case has so far been Mine of the future Program launched by Rio Tinto in 2008. Other than Rio Tinto, Anglo Gold Ashanti also runs ATIC program and Vale has its own base metal Innovation consortia. Last year, Anglo-American has also started an Open Innovation forum, FutureSmartTM. At local level players like goldfield is famous for supporting open innovation by hosting mining ‘hackathons’ to develop new ideas. In last few years, there has been a clear rise in Open Innovation in mining sector especially involving big mining houses. But the most innovative solutions are often observed in the junior mining sector. Driven by the challenge to run mining at low-cost junior mining companies are quick to adopt technology and do not hesitate to engage with outside industry.

Mining Innovation Platform in Africa

When it comes to developing mining innovation technology especially in Africa, there is no dedicated innovation platform that engages industry, academia, and young entrepreneurs from outside industry.

Mining Innovation Portal aim to bridge this gap by opening up innovation dialogue, educating Mining Innovation at University level and by cross-industry collaboration for developing the solution specifically for local mining challenges.

The Mining Innovation Hub serves as an accelerator for SMEs and startups in Mining Innovation field. It serves as platforms where mining companies can come and shop for available off the shelf solution, or can adopt an idea and develop it further into an executable product.

By doing this, Mining Innovation hub helps to build a local innovation ecosystem and in turn boost economy. Support from all the stakeholder involved is much-needed in the success of this platform.

How to get involved?

Become a Sponsor or Partner: Mining Innovation actively seeking partners for our Innovation Hub projects. Being a startup and a bootstrap initiative we are looking to partner with government, private companies, international innovation experts and individuals with common interest and vision. We hoping to learn and grow via partnership and seeking people who can mentor young startups coming through incubation hub.

Why to become Partner: We believe mining industry is sitting at crossroad and need for innovation is not just limited to African mining sector but across the globe. By becoming the partner one would help to create a mining innovation ecosystem that will not only boost mining industry and in turn economy but also will help to build a sustainable earth for the future.

Give me some more reason to Join: Because someone need to start changing the way current mining industry is and we need leaders to lead the path and share their experience, in other words, “be the change we want to see”.

So, come join us.

To learn more, email us at info@mininginnovation.co.za

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Reference:

Henry Chesbrough, Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape, 1st Edition. ISBN-10: 1422104273

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Mining Industry is one of the industries that have evolved continuously from innovation. Sending a horse to underground to convey broken ore to using driver-less truck we surely have come far off from where all this started.   Horse Picture from via @TrevAHall tweet. New technology in mining develop in two ways,...