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Industry leaders call for collaboration

The Mining Journal ‘Global Leadership Report: Preparing for transformation’ was released last week and revealed leaders from a collection of the world’s largest miners believe the industry should be collaborating more among its own ranks and with other industries to tackle the increasing volume of industry challenges.
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Staff reporter

As part of the report, Mining Journal and its partners Proudfoot and Swann Global asked 21 executives from companies with an aggregated market capitalisation of some $367 billion four open questions on the theme of transformation; this included what the industry should be doing to transform itself in the face on an unprecedented level of change.

More than half (52%) of those interviewed said the industry should be collaborating more to improve its image among stakeholder groups, share infrastructure and project risks, and tackle the looming shortage of young professionals willing to work in the mining sector.

Newcrest chief executive Sandeep Biswas said collaboration was something the mining industry typically did poorly and, if improved, could yield exceptional results.

"We still very much row our own boats," he said. "But the speed at which collaboration can propel you when done properly is extraordinary. We are just not taking advantage of that as an industry."

Almost all the executives we spoke to were clear on the need for transformation, had a clear vision of how that should be delivered

Fresnillo chief executive Octavio Alvídrez called for the creation of an industry-wide platform that can "pool resources and provide a base to publicise all the good being done and change the perception".

"We have many industry groups that get together and attempt to tackle some of these issues, but they are either too small or too bureaucratic to allow the kind of large-scale, long-running communication campaign needed to change public perceptions," he said.

However, when asked what programmes their companies had in place to prepare for transformation, only 19% were able to point to actions taken to improve collaboration.

"Worryingly, most of this collaboration was focused on working with groups outside the industry to better understand technology and its application opportunities," Aspermont head of research and intelligence Chris Cann said.

"Only a handful were collaborating with other miners to share risks and not one executive said there were programmes in place to collaboratively improve the industry's poor reputation or to attract talent."

In terms of the factors forcing mining companies to transform, 71% spoke at length about technology and 66% spent significant time discussing stakeholder engagement or reputational risk. Attracting talent was a key issue for 38% of executives and 14% prioritised future exploration success or the ‘discovery deficit' during the interview process.

Pleasingly, the majority of executives responded positively to a question about execution success. All of those interviewed advocated the importance of engaging the entire organisation with the transformation messages coming from the leadership team, though just around a quarter said they were not confident they were achieving this goal. Of those that said their staff was engaged, 52% said there was still room for improvement.

"Almost all the executives we spoke to were clear on the need for transformation, had a clear vision of how that should be delivered, and were aware of the need for thorough engagement throughout the organisation to effectively introduce change programmes," Cann said.

The ‘Global Leadership Report: Preparing for transformation' was published last week and includes interviews with 21 leading executives along with the results of a digital survey, which elicited responses from well over 500 industry professionals on the subjects of Transformation, Leadership Attributes and current industry Threats and Opportunities. The Executive Summary is available here.

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