Brave New Digital World: It’s not an innovation problem…it’s a technology adoption problem


Don Duval, NORCAT

The global mining industry has embarked on a remarkable innovation and technology transformation journey – driven in part by unprecedented pressure for executives to enhance shareholder value, improve productivity and safety, and expand asset utilization. As this unfolds, NORCAT has had an unrivaled opportunity to “watch and learn.” From Sudbury, Canada, NORCAT operates the only regional innovation centre in the world with an operating mine designed to enable start-ups, small to/ medium sized enterprises, and international companies to develop, test, and showcase new and innovative technologies in an operating mine environment.  This one-of-a-kind “active laboratory” defines the value of “place-based” innovation whereby we help to create, connect, and broker relationships between mining tech firms (“builders” of innovation) and global mining companies (“buyers” of innovation). As such, it fosters a mining tech ecosystem like no other in the world. Given our privileged perspective, the intent of our presentation is to share our first-hand insights to help mining executives overcome the innovation and technology adoption hurdle. We will share our insights on the following themes: It’s not an innovation problem. The global mining industry does not have an innovation problem…it’s a “technology adoption” problem. Innovation is a team sport. The ongoing divestiture of in-house R&D has caused the innovation model in mining to fundamentally change. Slow down and fix things. Many mining companies are getting caught up in the “innovation excitement bandwagon”, without first defining a clear strategy, vision, and roadmap. Lots of “creative capacity” exists. Beyond physical technologies, mining executives are increasingly expecting more “abstract” innovation from mining tech companies. Try before you buy. Before mining companies invest or make a “buy” decision to implement a new technology, they want to see it, touch it, and validate that
Keywords: Innovation, technology adoption, development, testing, demonstration, shareholder value, competitiveness, automation, big data, AI