Updated: Apr 19
By 2030, the world will have changed in ways that will have profound effects on the mining industry and the people who rely on it. A shifting geopolitical landscape, demographic change, technological innovations, ecological changes, new methods of transportation, and increasing social awareness among consumers and employees are all drivers of change both today and in the future.
In order to explore the “new normal” that the mining industry will be operating under in the upcoming decade, Wikistrat and Sandpit Innovation partnered together to run an online simulation to explore scenarios for the mining industry in 2030, focused on how Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance factors and digital technologies will combine and shape the mining industry in the next decade.
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The simulation ran online from February 22nd to February 28th, 2021. During this period, a crowd of 90 professionals from within the mining industry and experts from other industries and disciplines collaborated to generate more than 70 scenarios. The simulation consisted of two phases:
In the first phase, which ran for five days, the participants were asked to work together and develop scenarios for the future of the mining industry. The participants were given two options for writing their scenarios. The first was by using a method called backtracking, by describing the “new normal” for the mining industry in the year 2030 and walking the reader through the journey that led to it. The second option was to develop scenarios that were based on storytelling by focusing on the day in the life of a character who is part of the mining industry in the year 2030.
In the second phase of the simulation, we asked the crowd to rank the likelihood of various trends and potential situations that would impact the mining industry and its ability to operate in the future environment.
What the Crowd Desire
If all the scenarios, stories, and recommendations were to be condensed into a single insight, it would be this: The main factor that is about to shape the industry is the changing values of its employees. The increasing demand for transparency by the public and investors, the advances and spread in the use of technologies to share information, and the increasing competition to attract technical talent are some of the factors that will lead employees in mining firms to demand management to accept and apply new norms.
Reading through the scenarios and the discussions, a clear insight has emerged that the crowd is not seeking solutions for the industry to respond to, adapt to, and adjust to the rise in social awareness, but for the industry to become an active force in leading such changes.
What the Crowd Project
The simulation clarified that the crowd is not only projecting that remote work is about to become the new normal, but that it is a necessary phase in the advance of complete automatization of all the mining operations. The driving force behind this will be the increasing value and demand for data in the decision-making process. As a result, mining firms will be valued based on their ability and potential to fulfill such requirements, and not only by the traditional economic performance indicators.
What the Crowd Fear
The main fear the crowd expressed across the scenarios and in the voting was an industry stagnation. This fear was expressed in the need to adjust norms to fit the ones of the employees, but also with a clear understanding that the new normal in which mining firms will be operating in the year 2030 will be one in which the new enforcer and driver of change are no longer the regulators, but the public. End-consumers will be raising the bar and demanding transparency and commitment to ESG standards.
What the Crowd Suspect
Various scenarios explored the possibility of industry disruption by technological companies, and while the crowd suspects that the “Teslaization” trend will spill over to the mining industry sooner rather than later, the majority of participants don’t perceive it as an existential industry threat (a Kodak-type disruption) but as the emergence of a new type of actors alongside the traditional Tier I firms that are leading the industry.
Across the simulation, the crowd primary recommendation to industry executives
was to understand that now is the time to experiment, to take an active approach,
to not sit on the sidelines, and to increase the number and investments in projects
that are aimed at achieving better ESG objectives via the use of new technologies,
adoption of new norms, and seeking to achieve higher transparency.