According to the latest EY latest Mobility Consumer Index, more than 50% of consumers planning to buy a car will choose either a fully electric, plug-in hybrid, or hybrid vehicle. This is the first time the number has exceeded 50%; and represents a rise of 22 percentage points in just two years. And this paradigm in propulsion will see similar growth in other mobility areas too, as we slowly wean ourselves off our reliance on oil.
Indeed, the collective might of international legislation, electrification and decarbonization is having a radical impact on the global materials markets, as existing companies compete to catch up with demand, and newer companies appear to grab their slice of the market.
Industrial Overview & Market Indicators
The essential elements (literally) in this race are Lithium and Copper. Copper has seen it all before, being a staple ingredient of electrical solutions even before Edison and Westinghouse competed against each other in the late 1880 and early 90s.
Lithium on the other hand is relative newcomer, with the first rechargeable lithium-ion battery being patented nearly 100 years later in 1977. But its diminutive age belies its importance to modern society. As well as providing power for laptops and cell phones, pretty much anything that moves under its own electrical power uses lithium and its derivatives.
Demand is such that even the smaller lithium deposits are deemed cost effective to mine due to the market price remaining relatively stable in the long term, with growing demand even pushing it up. For this reason, across the globe, smaller-scale operations are attracting major investment as they begin to ramp up extraction operations.
But before these new, smaller operations get into their stride, it’s worth pointing out that they can learn a thing or two from larger and more experienced mining firms, even those that have nothing to do with Lithium.
If asked, I would argue that the majority of established mining operations will profess a desire to have gone digital much earlier. And the reasons are clear: the digital-mine approach has created a paradigm shift in efficiency and visibility considerations in an industry that has traditionally had its roots well and truly set in an analog mindset.
Digital transformation has a positive effect on just about every facet of a mine’s operations, from the more obvious operational gains, through health and safety, and onwards into sustainability. But its umbrella of benefits and enhanced capabilities cover far more than just local operations. It covers the entire value chain, from mining, through processing, onwards to battery manufacturing, installation and use, and eventually ending with reclaiming and recycling.
Every step of this process thrives on the visualization and contextualization of data from local, upstream, and downstream mining sources, allowing every link – especially the smaller companies – to benefit from the digital economies of scale of a much larger operation.
And this interlinked data path will eventually form the foundation of the inevitable digital passport for EV batteries too, especially with both EU legislation and the might of global German car manufacturers onboard. Every step of the value chain will benefit from this combined knowledge.
Benefits of early digitalization
So, why do these start-ups need to go digital early? The justification starts with a holistic view of their operations, where they must consider CAPEX, OPEX, government policy, supply chain management, IT and OT technology, infrastructure… the list goes on.
They also need to consider the localized environmental impact of their operations, including energy use, water use and emissions. And then show it truthfully and unambiguously to local authorities. There’s a lot to juggle, monitor and disburse, but all of it can be controlled, manipulated, measured, and shared using digital technologies and pathways.
With our experience across the globe, we have developed expertise in addressing the local and global needs of mining operations. From the biggest opencast mines to smaller, specialist operations, we have delivered solutions that create truly digital mines. And those that have seen the biggest benefits are mining facilities that have fully integrated a digital mindset across their entire operations.
Our offering is holistic too, encompassing consulting, contracting, connection, field, and workforce services, which all help connect your assets with your people and stakeholders for those all-important insights that result in real-time operational decisions.
Our solutions are in operation in 70% of Australia’s mines (the world’s largest producer of Lithium), in 60-70% in South America’s mines (Chile has the world’s biggest reserves and is the world’s second highest producer) and in 30% of China’s mines (the world third largest producer).
You don’t see this level of saturation without commitment and hard-earned domain expertise. We understand the entire ecosystem and have solutions for every level and every step of the value chain. Leverage our expertise, technology, partnerships, and resources to simplify your digital transformation in Lithium and Copper mines and benefit from higher efficiency and throughput, reduced costs, and more sustainable operations. Our predictive and prescriptive maintenance capabilities ensure environmental and human safety, avoiding downtime and maximum OEE.
Going digital is not a state of mind, it’s a business imperative and the earlier you embrace all the operational ones and zeros, the more benefits and value you will extract.