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Podcast: Michelle Ash, Chair of Global Mining Guidelines Group on how mining needs to innovate

April 30, 2019

The Dig Deep mining podcast is produced by Rob Tyson, an experienced mining recruiter/head-hunter with over 10 years in the mining industry. Rob’s mission for his podcast is to discuss, educate and talk about mining industry news and hot topics.

How will the mining industry innovate through the technological revolution that we are currently going through? To answer this and other key questions Rob Interviews Michelle Ash the chief innovation officer for Barrick Gold, and the Chair of the Global Mining Guidelines Group. Their conversation moves from how Michelle got into the mining industry to what skills people need to adapt to the rate of technological change within society. If you have thought about possibly working in the mining industry in the future, or want to understand how as an industry they are trying to work together to solve problems through the GMG this is the podcast for you.

Key points:

How did you get into the mining industry? I’ve been in the mining industry for 25 years and really I fell into it by accident. I trained as a civil engineer, and then I got picked up as a blast engineer, and seeing your work literally moving mountains was something else. I love the mining industry and I’ve worked all over the world. I loved working in Australia, most recently I worked in Tanzania which I thoroughly enjoyed.

What’s the major differences between the big companies? I’ve worked for both larger and smaller companies. Often in the smaller companies you get a lot more flexibility, and breath in the roles that you take whereas in the bigger companies you are more specialized. With the smaller companies you have to make sure that you squeeze every bit of profit out of the mine because they are a lot smaller.

What would you say the new technological trends are within the mining industry? We talk a lot about industry 4.0 but what it boils down to is around connectivity being faster and better. With satellite comms, and 5g networks being cheaper it allows companies access to high quality computing and communication without the previous scale of costs. There are lots of new technologies that are able to track the health of our employees, and tracking more effectively underground.

What new skills do mining professionals need to learn? We are all going to have to learn a lot more about AI, and Blockchain. If you are younger, I would recommend getting some good coding skills if you want to enter the mining industry. There are some less obvious skills like focusing on humanistic design, especially around agile methods of production I think that universities and companies have to change to reflect these new skills.

Do you think that mining has an image problem? I think technologies will help make it more attractive but they are only enablers. Making sure that people need to get out and know about the mining industry. Some of the Hackathans that we have conducted were around wanting to really engage young people in the problems that we are trying to solve. Young people are the future workforce which means that you have to engage with them.

What should institutions do to attract people into the industry? We have seen a decline in people getting into certain fields like geology. You have to have a multi-level approach, around upgrading company practice and the curriculum. Governments have a great convening ability, getting these groups together to talk about important subjects. I think we have to get into science, mathematics and engineering in schools which are the base of the skills that we are looking for.

What social changes will impact the mining industry? There is greater demands on being less impactful to the environment. This might drive us to create different drilling methods. Those technologies have an impact on how people interact, communicate and learn new things.

What is GMG all about? GMG is an industry association, which is member driven. We have members all over the world from India, to the States and Latin America. We are looking at expanding in China. We also work with mining services industry. We work towards developing guidelines on topics such as automation, remote operations, and KPIs for example. We are currently looking at AI and Dam construction. At GMG we bring groups together to help develop those guidelines.

Why do you enjoy working in the mining sector? I love it because it really does change outcomes for communities. It can go into rural, more struggling places and can build, cities and towns because of the mining industry.

Who have been the most influential people in your career? Lots of people over the years, have allowed me to go abroad for example and others that took a gamble of me when I moved over to the PVC industry.

How do you see the future of mining? I think it has a bright future. The rate of change will continue to accelerate. We will accelerate the implementation of those. We’ll see more and more people working remotely and not in high-risk roles.

What advice would you give someone if they want to take a similar career to you? Certainly getting some experience in new technologies would be ideal. Keeping an open, challenging and inquisitive mindset. Get involved in the industry and understand how the mining industry works.

Find out more about the Global Mining Guidelines Group GMG – https://gmggroup.org

 Michelle Ash

Michelle Ash is senior executive who specialises in strategy development and implementation with key skills in technology transformation, innovation, leadership and cultural change within the mining industry having worked for some of the major mining houses, Barrick Gold, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and MMG. Michelle is currently the chair for GMG – Global Mining Guidelines Group who are a network of like-minded companies driving change in the mining industry and shares with us the major technology changes that are happening and changing the mining industry of the future.

Contact Method:LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleash/

About the host:

Rob Tyson, an experienced mining recruiter/head-hunter with over 10 years in the mining industry, is the founder and director of Mining International Ltd, a leading recruitment and headhunting agency based in the UK specialising in mining across the global. We source and discover new talent to fill those difficult or challenging vacancies our clients have.

Previous topics on the podcast have included what it takes to be a leader in mining, getting your dream job, looking at the opportunities and challenges in the African mining industry, and finding finance for your projects.

To get in touch with Rob and find out more about Mining International Ltd then head to his website www.mining-international.org

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MiningIR hosts a variety of articles from a range of sources. Our content, while interesting, should not be considered as formal financial advice. Always seek professional guidance and consult a range of sources before investing.
James Hyland, MiningIR