Growth of mining in WA remains strong during pandemic
WA has returned to the top of the heap once again in terms of mining investment, with an additional $20.6 billion of investment committed in the 20-21 period. The Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation report from November 2021 showed mining accounted for a staggering 47% of Western Australia’s Gross State Product – almost $170 billion – up from 36% in 2020.
What’s more, WA has been voted as the most attractive destination in the world for mining investment based on both metallurgical, geological and policy indicators as per the Annual Survey of Mining Companies by the Fraser Institute. All of this points to a busy, sustained period of mining growth in WA.
The Great Resignation reaches the mining sector
This growth has not been without its challenges. Staff retention is one of the biggest issues facing not just WA, but the world. The phrase ‘The Great Resignation’ is becoming more accurate by the day and mining recruitment agencies are experiencing a bonanza in terms of requests for their services.
Record low unemployment figures and locked down borders have reduced the candidate pool, while supply chains have been disrupted causing delays and cost blow-outs in both materials and services. Mining companies are having to find ways to do more with less from a resourcing standpoint, outsourcing non-core functions and providing perks and benefits to staff to attract employees.
How businesses can leverage tech to address staffing and supply chain dilemmas
There’s an opportunity for tier 1-3 miners across the board to use technology to address these challenges, in lieu of throwing extra bodies at them. Here are some of the mining technology innovations we are seeing in the market with the best return on investment:
Providing home technology to staff on site
On most sites, existing fibre (GPON – Gigabit passive optical networks) and coaxial networks can be adapted or upgraded quickly and easily to provide high bandwidth options that allow users to keep in touch with family, stream Netflix and watch sports the way they would at home. This also allows operators to drop costly commercial satellite TV options that cornered the market for so long. A combination of content on demand as well as free-to-air TV through satellite (VAST) has proven cost effective and a winner with staff.
Outsourcing on-premise server management with Edge cloud migration
Many mine sites have significant resources on-premises for managing compute and server infrastructure for process control, SCADA and production requirements. Mines are not in the business of IT but it is a mission critical function required to keep processes operating day and night.
Advancements in regionally located ‘Edge’ data centres mean that mining companies now have the option to outsource this work while maintaining the performance of their on-premise network – removing the requirement for in-house staff in what is currently a highly competitive (read, costly) ICT market. Edge is about bringing the cloud closer to the end user, reducing latency and allowing more real-time responses from systems. With Edge data centres, information can be located not just in major data centres in Perth, but also in the Pilbara, Goldfields or beyond.
Having critical spares on hand
This may seem a basic requirement, however washed-out roads, delayed trains and ships stuck outside Shanghai due to COVID are causing major supply chain issues in WA. It’s never been more important to have on hand critical spares for your data and telephony networks. We have seen many mining companies hampered by lightning strikes and storm damage due to a lack of items that would typically be readily available, but currently aren’t accessible.
What if your mining tech could help your team grow?
At TBTC Perth South, we help mining companies leverage leading tech that gives them a competitive recruitment advantage. Importantly, this mining technology requires reliable, fast internet access and data connectivity – and thankfully many options have become available in the market for lower-cost connectivity, even in regional areas like north-west WA. Talk to us today to see how we can get you up to speed.