The Future of Mining Operations

Australian miners are looking to new horizons amid the drive to Net Zero.

Behind the changing face of mining operations lies tremendous demand for critical minerals, evolving ESG practices and collaboration in search of new technologies.

In this piece, we’ll explore the driving factors, challenges and opportunities facing miners on their next horizon with Haultrax Digital Operational Lead, Lorenzo Scalabrini.


Critical Minerals & Collaboration

The global energy transition presents a massive opportunity for Australian mining.

In an age of megatrends, none is more significant than the decarbonisation and electrification movements.

As this wave of rapid technological development sweeps through, demand for critical minerals will boom.

Australian miners are now positioned to support the global push towards a 45% emissions reduction by 2030 and 2050 Net Zero targets, per the Paris Agreement.

But while investment accelerates in renewable energy generation, storage and transmission, surface mining operations need improvements to achieve sustainable delivery of the world’s future-focussed natural resources.

With EVs driving strong growth, the lithium market alone is projected to increase sixfold to 500 kilotonnes by 2030, requiring roughly 50 new average-sized mines.
– International Energy Agency

Aside from the many challenges and opportunities facing Australian Mining, collaboration is critical in accelerating the industry to meet 2030 targets.

Industry consortiums are developing “collective understandings” around the zero emissions transition, using mining project success stories and failures to understand what works and why.

Collaboration between miners is aimed at more efficiency across:

  • New minerals and downstream processing
  • Mining operation and refining across different geographies
  • More mineral resource exploration and innovation
  • A genuine focus on ESG standards


The Net Zero Technology Gap

To refine and improve operations, Australian miners are turning to new and novel technologies to bridge the gap to Net Zero.

According to Haultrax’s Digital Operational Lead, Lorenzo Scalabrini, “the mining industry is key in enabling the globe to transition to a zero-emissions future”.

“From new organisational structures and new processes down to the technology, we aim to accelerate progress and make change happen.”

Rethinking Net Zero could lead to shared-use infrastructure (including digital infrastructure) or more critical mineral resource hubs.
– KPMG Aussie Mine Report 2022

As miners align themselves to benchmark Scope 1 and Scope 2 climate targets by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050, the industry faces a technology gap as a complete and commercially proven “silver bullet” solution remains elusive.

By partnering with miners willing to embark on the Zero Emissions journey, Lorenzo hopes to “foster sustainable and strategic organisational change through innovation and novel approaches to mining operations”.

“A solution to the dependence of a mining operation on diesel does not yet exist, although there are partial options,” Lorenzo said.

“A silver bullet solution is a red herring, and the pathway forward requires a balance of finding new use cases for proven technologies that already exist and making way for innovative technologies to emerge.”

While clear technical solutions may still be some way off, the focus at Haultrax remains on those at the forefront of mining and with boots on the ground.

“Haultrax is a specialist in understanding how people work together in a mining operation and how technology and innovation can make a real and positive difference to the way the business is run and the lives of its people,” Lorenzo added.


Approaching ESG

Mining and related Industries will indeed feel the effects of an ESG revolution up and down the value chain.

Whether transitioning open pit mining to low-carbon or addressing growing consumer preferences for sustainable products and services, ESG conveys ethical practice alongside corporate accountability to people and the planet.

“ESG-related changes present new growth opportunities,” Lorenzo said.

“But the mining industry has a really poor reputation in Australia and around the globe, and this is no doubt playing a part in the workforce shortage.”

“The ESG movement must provide transparency, accountability and community engagement while attracting investment and a skilled workforce.”

The mining sector’s social licence to operate is more important than ever. To expand, miners need to put even greater efforts into meeting community expectations and building trust.

Companies that build thriving relationships with their suppliers and contractors will be those with a comprehensive ESG strategy.

Flow-on ESG benefits will include:

  • Access to cheaper capital via green or sustainable linked bonds.
  • Drive leadership in First Nations and local community engagement, working together for mutually beneficial outcomes.
  • Provide corporate and social responsibility leadership while attracting and retaining the best talent.
  • Develop health, safety, and employee well-being for energised and purpose-driven employees.
  • Transform mining techniques by developing green fleets with potentially reduced costs.
  • Maintain market share and achieve premium pricing by producing a green product with sound origin.
  • Invest further down the value chain and provide leadership in reducing Scope 3 emissions.
  • Protect the environment by reimaging biodiversity and rethinking mining sites’ rehabilitation and carbon footprint.


The Haultrax Future Focus

The mining industry must adapt to maintain a social license and play its part as a responsible global citizen.

Lorenzo’s vision is a continuation of the Haultrax way, with a renewed focus on the future of mining operations.

“For over ten years, Haultrax has worked with miners to challenge how things have always been done and to push the industry to new heights by assisting in the sustainable adoption of novel technologies,” he said.

“This has included safety-critical Collision Awareness Systems, efficiency-boosting Fleet Management Systems, and paradigm-shifting Autonomous Haulage Systems.”

According to Lorenzo, the broad vision for Haultrax is to enable mining companies “to be where they want to be”.

“Understanding people and supporting decision-making is the heart of what we do,” he said.

“To improve productivity and set a high standard for ESG, Haultrax is committed to helping clients make the most of their mining operation.”

Learn more about Haultrax here.

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