Driving sustainability in mining, metals, and materials

Posted: March 23, 2023

As climate change fears loom, the world is pushing towards net-zero goals, and reaching those goals will have a significant impact on the mining, metals, and materials (MMM) industry. Lower carbon energy production, such as wind and solar, requires more metals to produce. According to a recent McKinsey report, generating one terawatt-hour of electricity from wind and solar could use 2-300% more metals than gas-fired power—which puts pressure on MMM companies to produce even more output. That same report estimates that this increase in demand could result in $250-350 billion in capital expenditures just in copper and nickel by 2023.

Already a labor and capital-intensive industry, MMM operations must find new ways to weather these demand fluctuations along with other market pressures, such as environmental regulations, aging assets, and even a retiring workforce. To pave the path for a sustainable and profitable future, MMM companies around the world must digitally transform work. At AVEVA, we provide the digital tools companies need to help them reach their sustainability and net-zero goals.

MMM companies cannot use antiquated and manual processes to adapt to market pressures and constantly changing conditions. Companies must use digital tools to adopt five business imperatives:

Speed time from concept to full-capacity production

Capital projects are unavoidable, but a digital engineering project enables companies to speed up engineering cycles while avoiding delays and budget overruns. By taking a digital, data-centric approach engineers have access to trusted information and insights so they can collaborate more effectively and make the right decisions at the right time. With this visibility, teams can better monitor budgets and schedules, streamline projects, and improve overall efficiency.

Empower the workforce

MMM companies can use an industrial information infrastructure to build a connected workforce that has access to timely information and insights. By increasing digital tool adoption, companies can improve training methods and digital guidance in the workplace to attract and retain new workers. A connected workforce helps accelerate innovation and drive safe operations.

Ensure asset reliability, efficiency, and safety

Teams can use real-time and historical data combined with digital analytics tools to identify asset performance issues, prioritize maintenance needs, extend asset lifecycles, and make smarter decisions about repair versus replacement. By having increased visibility into asset behavior, operators can increase reliability and prevent unscheduled downtime, reducing production losses and mitigating potential safety incidents.

Optimize the value chain and increase productivity

By centralizing data management, MMM can use master data management solutions and strategies and a model-driven execution process to improve product quality, reduce waste, increase energy efficiency, and become more agile to balance supply and demand. Users can optimize the planning process to capitalize on spot prices and improve ore forecasts to maximize recoveries. Operators can also use process optimization models to automatically adjust setpoints to improve efficiency and operate within environmental constraints.

Make the best use of precious resources and decarbonize

By centralizing operations data and enabling remote operations, companies can leverage that data to increase asset health and performance. By ensuring processes are running as efficiently and sustainably as possible they can drive responsible use of resources like water and reduce carbon emissions at the same time. Democratizing insights across the value chain means MMM operations can make every team member a key stakeholder in performance and sustainability initiatives.

Implementing these imperatives takes time, but MMM companies are using six cross-functional digital initiatives to transform work and build a better, more sustainable future.

Download the white paper to learn more about the five business imperatives and do a deeper dive into the cross-functional digital initiatives.

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